Satirical comedy Hot Air is predictable, artless and toothless, with Steve Coogan floundering in the lead role
This hideous fever dream of a movie may well be director Frank 'Spank' Coraci's bid to redeem himself after a lifetime of Adam Sandler collaborations. It's as saccharine as the worst of his work, but at least attempts to make a laudable political statement in unambiguous terms.
Steve Coogan's right-wing radio personality, Lionel Macomb, isn't necessarily the villain of the piece, but is certainly a force of cosmic negativity. His button-pushing invective is something that must be maintained at all costs in order to keep his ratings afloat, and so in this respect, his culpability is diminished. He is merely a puppet.
Meanwhile, Macomb’s teenage niece who suddenly walks into his life represents our collective hope for the future, the younger generation tasked with undoing the damage caused by their boomer elders.
The likes of Nicholas Ray’s Bigger than Life have shown that it can be effective to have Brits portray Americans in movies that examine the US’s tortured psyche, the stars’ alien qualities lending their critiques a sense of detached objectivity. Casting Coogan in the lead here, however, feels like an act of cowardice. His ropey accent is a bizarre distraction, and he lacks the specific brand of showmanship and charisma required to sell this role. Hot Air is predictable, artless fare at its core, yet also disappointingly toothless. Here Coraci doesn’t hold the mirror up to America, but rather a trite Snapchat filter.