When hapless government minister Simon Foster (Hollander) ill-advisedly tells a radio host that conflict with an unnamed Arab nation is unforeseeable, Downing Streets acid-tongued communications director Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi), a Scottish bulldog for the prime minister's hawkish agenda, flies into a tizzy. Needing to do damage control, Tucker travels to Washington D.C. to meet with American leaders hoping to make the case for war. But there are pro- and anti-war factions at the Pentagon, including a hard-nosed State Department official (David Rasche) and a dovish general (Gandolfini). Who can control media messaging and build public support with so much bitterness in the air?
Based on a popular British TV series, Iannucci's "In the Loop" is a fast and furiously funny satire of Whitehall and White House political culture in the run-up to the Iraq war, packing more bilious wit and caustic putdowns than an entire season of "The Office." At the center of it all is Capaldi's Tucker, an absolutely scalding presence whose angry tirades and demeaning, expletive-laced exchanges with underlings and uncooperative officials send this uproarious film into overdrive. Mimi Kennedy (as a dentally challenged diplomat), Chris Addison (as college-young adviser Toby), Gina McKee (Tucker's assistant Judy), and James Gandolfini (playing against type as a peaceable Pentagon leader) round out a crackerjack ensemble cast. Who said politics couldn't be rip-roaring fun?