I've always felt, and feel that this is something that most of you know or, maybe, should know, that you retain information better if you're having fun or if you're being entertained. This is especially true when it refers to school topics such as history, math, english or whatever other subject you may be covering. I know some of you, particularly those from an older generation, might say that learning or education isn't about having fun, it's about, well, learning, of course. And there's some truth to that in that you should also learn. But, let's just say, that your teacher is like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, where his monotone and boring form of talking means that he's, essentially, a substitute for Ambien to the kids taking his classes. Nobody is gonna learn anything from a teacher like that. Same thing applies to a teacher with no passion for what they do. None of that resonates with kids or, really, any student of any age for that matter. For example, take this movie, as an example, and imagine this as a class taught by Ben Stein. Now, let's take out Ben Stein out of the equation and, say, we put George Carlin in his place or whomever your favorite comic is. It's not just a stand-up routine, you're actually also learning something about the Soviet Union in the aftermath of Stalin's death. You tell me which class you're gonna remember more??? This brings us to this little flick right here. And, of course, I'm not here to suggest that this movie is entirely 100% historically accurate, because it's not. To criticize the movie for not being historically accurate, mostly historians, I feel, is kind of missing the point of the movie. Armando Iannucci isn't Kenneth Branagh, who would probably go nuts if he was to write and direct this movie, making a four-hour comprehensive epic that would be as close to the real thing as humanly possible. Armando Iannucci is a satirist, well-known for his political satires The Thick Of It (which was extended to an excellent film called In The Loop), Veep and, obviously, this movie. He's taken a look at the immediate aftermath of Stalin's death, the instant political machinations by both Beria and Nikita in order to assert their vision for the Soviet Union's future by manipulating those around them, trying to gain as many people in the presidium in their favor in order to oust the other. It's completely and utterly fascinating to watch honestly. There's a sort of manic energy surrounding the events of the movie as, in many ways, and this clearly oversimplifies what happens, it's kind of a tug-of-war between Nikita and Beria and they're trying to pull as hard and as fast as they can to, basically, improve their position. Georgy Malenkov, Stalin's successor, really is kind of a patsy and he doesn't really run anything, Beria and Nikita are the men pulling the strings from behind the scenes, as it were, Georgy is just the figurehead that they have propped up at the moment to give the nation a sense of continuity during this transitional period in Soviet Union's history. Beria and Nikita both paint their intentions for those of the betterment of the country but, deep down, it's painfully clear that they want to lead the Soviet Union into a, supposedly, more prosperous period. That the Soviet Union stood for thirty more years after this should tell you THAT story. The film covers so much ground and, quite honestly, Soviet Union politics are not my forte, so I'm not even gonna bother going through every tiny little detail the film has to offer. Like I said, however, the film is, quite frankly, quite fucking great and the story it tells is so damn fascinating that it inspires you, if you didn't know about this chapter in history, to pick up a book detailing the consequences of Nikita and Beria's actions in the immediate aftermath of Stalin's death. I imagine that, while not necessarily 100% historically accurate, this movie captures the immediacy of the importance of what is to come next for the Soviet Union. And I imagine it also must capture how stressful it was to be either of these two men (Nikita and Beria) during this time, not knowing what their future would hold, whether they would even be alive at the end of that particular year. As entertaining as the movie is, and it is quite frankly a hilarious movie at times, I don't think it ever pretends that this was a wonderful time in history nor does it try to sugarcoat the horrible shit that happened in the aftermath. The death of 1500 civilians at the hand of the NKVD as a result of Nikita ordering the borders be opened, even if the NKVD were assigned by Beria. I think, in this film's context at least, Nikita knew very well what he was doing and he was using these civilians in order to, maybe, push Beria out the door. There's some really sobering scenes of people who might have helped Beria's cause being executed as if they were nothing and, to me, I think that's what most impacting about the movie, just the sheer amount of government oppression on display here. Doctors are killed, most of them off screen, just for being doctors and, supposedly, plotting against the Soviet Union (the evidence of this treason most likely having been fabricated). Even the climactic act itself, with the coup against Beria, him being subdued and giving a quick "trial" and promptly executed like he's nothing. Kind of sobering to watch honestly. As is to be expected with a film from someone like Armando Iannucci, the script is tremendous with biting satire. I don't wanna say the movie is a laugh riot from beginning to end, because it's not, but the comedy in the movie is tremendous. Vasily, Stalin's son, steals pretty much every scene he's in. That's not to say that the rest of the characters themselves aren't memorable, because they are, it's just that Vasily, a more ancillary character that's not really relevant to the narrative in any significant way, can be used as the "comic" relief. And that's saying something when every major character has great comedic moments. I think the movie invites you in with its comedy, but it hooks you with its tale of political machinations and excellent performances from every single member of the cast. Steve Buscemi gives his best performance in years (non-Boardwalk Empire). Simon Russell Beale is a tremendous villain. Jeffrey Tambor is a perfect patsy as Georgy Malenkov, as he tries to act like he's in control when, in reality, he's at the mercy of Nikita and/or Beria's manipulations. I single out these three because they really are at the head of the film's narrative and they drive it forward, but this might be the best cast I've seen in a comedy in fucking ages. That's how great they are. In many ways, this movie isn't exactly gonna be everybody's cup of tea, since I'm certain most casual fans aren't really gonna find much to like here, in spite of how great this movie is, but I found this to be a top-notch movie. Not only does it entertain you with a tremendous script and cast, but it also inspires you (while not necessarily being 100% historically accurate) to do some research on this subject and, hopefully, learn even more about it. I cannot complain about this movie in the slightest, this is a great movie (not just a great comedy) and I would easily recommend it if you know the type of political satire that you're getting into.