As a big fan of The Thick Of It I was equal parts intrigued and worried by the feature length spin-off. Not just for myself you understand but as with many British comedies you do wonder whether the humour will translate well across the pond and elsewhere. The strength of the series was always the up to the minute political satire and the profane logorrhea of Peter Capaldi's Malcolm Tucker. By it's very nature a feature film would not be able to be current by the time of its release unless Armando Iannucci had some kind of political crystal ball (which it sometimes seems as though he does) and I suspected that the pressures of pleasing a stateside audience might lead to a toning down of the language and perhaps even the accent it was delivered in. Iannucci avoids the first problem by focusing on the lead up to the second Iraq war, complete with the dodgiest of dossiers, and makes a joke of the second by playing on the American squeamishness for 'cuss-words' and keeping Tucker as explicit as ever and his protégé Jamie MacDonald (the brilliant Paul Higgins) even more so.
The major problem with the film is that it doesn't ever transcend its roots, it just feels like an extended episode of the series, which may not be a problem for those who are already on board but may not make the best viewing for those coming to it new. The involvement of the Americans allows those of us starved of a James Gandolfini fix the chance to see him again, providing the film with one of its more absurd moments as his vast hulk hunches over a little girl's toy calculator so that he can calculate troop numbers and possible casualties for any upcoming invasion. The British cast reprise their roles well and the slot of vacant buffoon is filled by Tom Hollander who just about gets away with it, flooring me with one line: 'difficult, difficult, lemon difficult', which won't make any sense unless you see the film which I recommend you do.