The funniest movie we've seen all summer, the British political satire In the Loop, arrives Friday at The Belcourt as part of the historic Hillsboro Village theater's "Best of Sundance '09" series. What could be better than watching sharp-tongued hatchet men flay each other with some of the most explosively profane bluster since Nixon left office? Why, a free reception before the 7 p.m. show Friday night, featuring food from Sunset Grill, Midtown Cafe, Cabana, Fido and Tin Angel with a selection of wines from Village Wines.
From this week's review:
The British do comedies of squirmy humiliation and browbeating better than anyone. But as critic Steve Erickson pointed out, this screamingly funny send-up of bellicose political brinkmanship and bureaucracy fits into a grand old American tradition: the blustery farces of Preston Sturges--especially those moments where a half-dozen combatants wedge into a room and start a honking traffic jam of invective. The catalyst here is a dim-bulb development minister (a sublimely dweeby Tom Hollander) who makes an innocuous statement that war is "unforeseeable," unaware that military machinery is secretly grinding at Downing Street and the White House. To his great misery--and the movie's delight--his office is stampeded by the prime minister's hatchet man, Peter Capaldi, an apoplectic Dark Lord of spin who'll bloody well salvage a war from this peace nonsense.
As the action shifts to Washington, the voices of moderation get shoved roughly to the margins--a familiar sight--and the drumbeats of war take on a Strangelovian inevitability. It's probably better reason to cry than laugh, but the writing is so sharp and quotable, the timing so pinpoint precise, and the ensemble so inspired that the laughter comes out explosively cathartic. The movie even gives James Gandolfini his best movie role this decade as a sensible Pentagon general sucked into the machinations, using a kid's toy to crunch numbers for extra troops: "At the end of a war you need some soldiers left, really, or else it looks like you've lost."
Spread the word--this movie is hilarious. See the theater's website for more information.