Despite a pedigree like so many British prestige projects -- award-winning actors and writers, topical subject matter, BBC roots -- "In the Loop" is no precious show dog. It's a snarling, frothing little beastie straining at its leash.
In fact, when someone in the film uses the word "purview," signature character Malcolm Tucker, the prime minister's communications chief, launches into one of his trademark expletive-laced tirades: "Where do you think you are, in some sort of regency . . . costume drama? This is a government department, not a . . . Jane . . . Austen novel!"
Springing from the acclaimed TV series "The Thick of It," the comedy concerns British complicity in the manipulation of arguments, facts and words to justify the U.S. invasion of an unnamed Middle Eastern country. Violently verbose and startlingly impolite, with shovelfuls of obscenities, "In the Loop" is the most savage, biting political satire on the big screen in years.
The snowball starts rolling when minor Cabinet minister Simon Foster makes a seemingly harmless remark during an interview ("War is unforeseeable"), precipitating a tornado of spin-doctoring. As the action shifts from London to Washington and ultimately to a climactic United Nations vote, operatives for and against military action engage in public relations jiu-jitsu.