This alleged satire, which received four-star treatment from other critics, left me with a ho-hum and sorry feeling that I had wasted an evening seeing it.
The humor is predicated on American and British diplomats seeking to embarrass one another. The Americans seek to plan a war against a Middle Eastern country, while the British want to stop them.
The principal British diplomat, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), is the most amusing member of the cast. He is not against the war but does not want to get into any trouble over it. He worries endlessly over whether he should resign. His press agent and new employee is Toby (Chris Addison). The British public relations officer and loudmouth of the group who insults everyone is Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). U.S. General Miller (James Gandolfini) upholds America's honor, and Karen (Mimi Kennedy) is a female diplomat who wants the American war plan exposed.
Most of the Brits have heavy accents and more than half of what they said was unintelligible to me. Although there are some funny gags, overall I did not find the script humorous due to the fact that most of the humor is predicated on everyone talking obscenely and constantly using the F-word. It may be that hearing distinguished characters continuously express themselves with a stream of obscenities is funny in Britain. Queen Victoria, however, would have said, "We are not amused." Neither was I.
Although the film has been playing for several weeks, I was surprised that there were fewer than 20 people in the audience when I saw it at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday evening at the IFC Waverly in New York. In this case the audience was more astute than the critics. While I would not recommend this film to you, I would urge you to see a movie of your choice at this theater which is located at 323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street. Their seats are as comfortable as living room chairs and there is plenty of space for people like me with long legs.
HS said: "I rather liked the movie, ephemeral as it was. The plot is basically bureaucratic infighting among British politicians and their minders. A Hillary Clinton type represents the American State Department, and James Gandolfini plays a huge U.S. General. The actors zip around, curse each other, and plot leaks. There is only one shag in the whole movie, tastefully filmed (which means you see nothing). The film's premise is anti-war; if you're smart enough to make a movie, you know war is beneath you. It's harder to rate a film which is not that good or that bad. The picture's strong point is its crisp dialogue; with its irreverent view of statecraft, its weakness is its convoluted plot which never unwinds believably."