Absurdly real or really absurd? I guess your take on that will depend on two things:
1. Are you British or American? If you're British, then you might find the frequency of F-bombs dropped by an Englishman offensive. If you're American, you will wonder whatever happened to the good ol' B-bomb. In either case, by now it won't surprise you to see U.S. and U.K. cell phones auto-adjusting to each other's bands. And people do a lot of cell-phone talking in this movie.
2. Are you into the sitcom "The Office"? Remember, that one first came out in the U.K. and then spawned a U.S. franchise to be more palatable to what supposedly is American humor. This movie offers plenty of zany office scenes, with equal shares of dysfunctional team dynamics afforded to both cultures.
The plot - or should I say "complot"? - is hopelessly convoluted. There is the prospect of war in the Middle East, but everything leading up to it (or not) is decided among second- and third-string bureaucrats, since the U.S. president and the British prime minister are conspicuously absent, and the British minister for international development is so clueless, you wouldn't hire him as his intern. Oh, speaking of interns, there is a duly concocted intimate "foreign affair." Actually, it is a rehash of a previous romantic entanglement between the two characters, and perhaps for that reason perfunctorily executed.
A little more than an hour into the movie, everybody ends up at the U.N. headquarters, but the scenes have the look and feel of a Midwest small-town newsroom (and for this I probably ought to apologize to all dedicated Midwest small-town journalists). Here, as throughout the movie, the British chief press officer is positioned more as a conduit than a character in an attempt to salvage any coherence.
If it weren't for the oasis of artistic originality presented by James Gandolfini, I would have to say the entire movie is a grandiose but D.O.A. attempt to emulate "Dr. Strangelove." But, thanks to Gandolfini (who once again is very well typecast), I'll learn to stop worrying and love the bomb... the F-bomb, that is. In Gandolfini's case, it is appropriate - hey, he's only a three-star general.