Published Aug 20, 2009A welcome summer departure from a long line of bland, heteronormative, "Peter Pan" Apatow comedies, In the Loop does the unthinkable by finding lucid humour grounded in a socially obscure phenomena with a political spin. It's like Wag the Dog if the folks over at The Office had a go at the material after watching an Arrested Development marathon, maintaining those keenly anarchic and awkward sensibilities.
Based on the BBC series The Thick of It, this laugh-out-loud winner starts with Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), a British government official inadvertently implying that war in the Middle East is "unforeseeable" while discussing the Third World plague of diarrhoea with the BBC. Unfortunately, this contradicts the Prime Minister's stance, as indicated by communications chief Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), in many expletive-laden rants.
Taking advantage, the U.S. Secretary of Diplomacy (Mimi Kennedy) and her alacritous assistant (Anna Chlumsky) convene with a peace-loving General (James Gandolfini) to use this slip-up to further their anti-war agenda, leading to more confusion, drama and career posturing.
While many standout scenes involving bleeding teeth and pink princess calculators, along with a non-stop acerbic wit, keep the laughs coming, the real joke is the overlying negligence and irresponsibility when it comes to human life and notions of war. These world leaders are so concerned with inter-office relationships and petty vendettas that they lose sight of the whole "mass extermination" side of things. It's funny because, while extremely hyperbolic, it's also kind of true.
Keeping things energized throughout is a cast of invested actors with capable comedic chops dryly mocking I Heart Huckabees and undermining each other's intelligence at every turn. In particular, Peter Capaldi and Mimi Kennedy steal every scene they are in, with Gandolfini bringing up the rear by tossing out a few choice zingers.
Fans of British satire and fancy wordplay should look no further than In the Loop, as it is easily the most consistently hilarious film of the summer. (Alliance)