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Review: ‘In the Loop’

Carrie Rickey Philadelphia Inquirer

If screenwriters gene-spliced “Wag the Dog” with “The West Wing” and set it in the context of Anglo-American relations, the result would be Armando Ianucci’s “In the Loop,” a scabrously funny look at the cutthroat game of statecraft.

At stake is whether British doves will ally with American hawks to invade an unnamed Middle Eastern nation.

So blinkered and careerist are most of the players that only two see the big picture: the geyser of profanity Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), a British press officer, and Linton Barwick (David Rasche), a smiley-face iron-fist State Department hawk.

When Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), a mid-level British cabinet member with a tendency to malaprop, says on air that he thinks war is “unforeseeable,” it causes a diplomatic tsunami on both sides of the Atlantic.

Within minutes, Tucker is zipping Foster’s lips and American doves Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy) and a three-star general (James Galdolfini) enlist him in a war against the war.

Bouncing between London and Washington at a velocity typically only seen in Chinese ping-pong, the film is fast, funny and about as deep as a pound note.

Playing at the Magic Lantern Theatre.

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