Sardonic is defined as bitterly sneering, ironic and sarcastic. This is an apt description of In The Loop, an Oscar Best Screenplay nominee.
The action centres around a hapless British minister in the lead up to the war in Iraq. Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) makes Jim Hacker from ‘Yes, Minister’ look highly capable and when under pressure in a radio interview, gives a view on the impending war with Iraq, sets up a chain of consequences that he is unable to control.
The action is set in the pollies behind the scenes offices in London and Washington as Foster is sent by the Prime Minister to sit in on the US Future Planning Committee (in truth, the war committee) headed up by the scheming Linton Barwick (David Rasche) and opposed by Karen Clark (Mimi Kennedy). But as always the real work is done by their underlings and the rivalry and byplay between all staffers is where this delicious comedy hits its straps. “Minutes are an aide-memoire for us. They should not be a reductive record of what happened to have been said, but they should be more a full record of what was intended to have been said.”
A recurring gag in the film is the youth placed in key positions of the US government departments. “You know they're all kids in Washington? It's like Bugsy Malone, but with real guns.”
The script involves many set conversation pieces between pairs of key characters and apart from the frequent swearing, is often hilarious because of the shameless narcissism, toadying and bickering. The communication advisers, lead by Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) are some of the angriest Scots I have seen on screen, who often steal the scenes they’re in because of their fearless put-downs. “Have you ever seen a film where the hero is a builder? No, no, because they never turn up in the nick of time. Bat-builder? Spider-builder? That's why you never see a superhero with a hod!” 4 out of 5.