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By Brad Wilke | May 29, 2009

“In the Loop” is a satire of Strangelovian proportions that is both inspired and crass, often at the same time. Adapted by director Armando Iannucci’s from his own hit BBC series “In the Thick of It,” “In the Loop” is a political farce that somehow manages to maintain a relatively light tone while dealing with a very heavy subject: namely, the lead-up to an unnamed Mid-East conflict.

The film follows Cabinet Minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) as he bumbles his way across the Atlantic from London to D.C. as the unwitting flash point for an armed conflict in the Mid-East. Minded sloppily by his brand new aide Toby (Chris Addison), Foster soon finds himself in well over his head as the savvy American political operatives use him as a pawn to further their own agendas.

Maclom Tucker (ably played by Peter Capaldi), the vulgar British Press Minister, soon finds himself engaged in his own verbal war as he attempts to clean up Foster’s mess, which turns out to be more complicated than he originally expected.

Iannucci’s pacing allows every rapid-fire joke to find its mark, while the ensemble cast does the material proud with spot-on portrayals of political functionaries consumed with furthering their careers, even at the cost of going to war with insufficient cause. Particular stand-outs are James Gandolfini as the free-thinking, anti-war General Miller and Mimi Kennedy as his tough-talking counterpart Karen Clark.

“In the Loop” is generous with its humor and spares no sacred cows, especially when it comes to the American political system. The jokes come quickly and the movie almost requires a second viewing to ensure proper acknowledgment of each and every one. If you are a fan of “Dr. Strangelove,” “Arrested Development,” or “M.A.S.H.,” then this movie is your cup of tea. If you happen to like all three, then “In the Loop” will be a true viewing pleasure.

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