Why critics are calling 'Veep' creator's 'The Death of Stalin' the 'funniest' movie of the year

IFC Films‘The Death of Stalin.’

Film critics are widely praising “The Death of Stalin,” a sharp political satire of the Soviet government that takes place in 1953, immediately following the death of dictator Josef Stalin.

Written and directed by Armando Iannucci, the creator of HBO’s Emmy-winning series “Veep,” the film is a dark and absurd dramatization of the power struggle among Stalin’s cronies after the Soviet leader’s death.

It’s based on a French graphic novel of the same name, and it stars Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev (Stalin’s successor), alongside Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, and Jeffery Tambor.

In January, the Russian government banned the film from being released in Russia, and a Russian official reportedly described the film as a form of “extremism” intent on “causing rifts in society.”

“The Death of Stalin” currently stands at a 96% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it opens in the US on Friday.

Here’s a selection of the best reviews for “The Death of Stalin”:

“Armando Iannucci’s hilarious, profane satire about politburos pole-positioning for power could not be more timely. It’s the funniest, fiercest comedy of the year.”

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Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“As Stanley Kubrick did with ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ Iannucci has built a satire not by twisting the truth but by nudging reality just a few inches further in the direction it was already going.”

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Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice

“A riotous farce of doublespeak and plotting laced with moments of bitumen-black horror.”

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Philip De Semlyen, Time Out

“This is a comedy of terrors that creates laughs but doesn’t let you forget that Stalin and his coterie caused the deaths of untold numbers of Soviet citizens.”

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Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Its application of [Iannucci’s] signature barbed comic voice to such grim history (executions are a constant source of gallows humour) packs its own punch.”

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A.A. Dowd, The AV Club

“Iannucci is one the world’s greatest living satirists.”

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Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“Iannucci has a genius for depicting ridiculous minutiae, the tyrannical relentlessness of red tape, the formality of statecraft versus the chaos of personality.”

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David Edelstein, Vulture

“Full of pithy one-liners and cringe-inducing power struggles laced with black humour.”

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Richard Porton, The Daily Beast

“A delicious black comedy.”

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Sara Stewart, The New York Post

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