A funny new comedy about, yes, war in the Middle East

War in the Middle East and comedy don’t usually go hand in hand, but writer-director Armando Iannucci manages to do so and then some with In the Loop (in limited release 7/24), a wickedly sharp satire about British politicians entangled in a U.S. campaign to promote a war.

Thanks to an ill-advised slip during a television interview, a bumbling British government minister (Tom Hollander) finds himself backing the U.S.’s war in the no-country-specified Middle East, much to the dismay of the prime minister’s communications chief (a ranting-and-raving Peter Capaldi, who steals every scene). As tensions between the allied countries increase, the Brits head to Washington, where they really learn about bureaucracy at its most idiotic. The film is fast-paced and almost unbearably witty, with terrific turns by Steve Coogan, David Rasche, Mimi Kennedy and James Gandolfini, putting Tony Soprano out to pasture with his absurd turn as a U.S. general.

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