The plot of “Hot Air,” directed by Frank Coraci from a screenplay by Will Reichel, is on target in this age of right-wing extremist broadcasters (think Fox News). In this case, the angry on-air American commentator is played By British actor Steve Coogan, who does a fierce job disseminating vitriol as commentator Lionel Macomb, who has a personality to match. Coogan demonstrates that he can handle a dramatic role as well as comedic parts for which he has become better known.
As long as the film is making its political point, “Hot Air” provides fresh air to the topic. But the seeds of sentimentality are planted when his needy 16-year-old African-American niece Tess, played by Taylor Russell, turns up seeking shelter.
At first Lionel, who hadn’t known of his niece, wants to turn her away, but he soon softens. There is a back story involving Tess’ mom, who has been in rehab. Tess finds a sympathetic ear from Lionel’s girlfriend and publicist, Valerie, sympathetically played by Neve Campbell. One may wonder how Valerie can tolerate Lionel.
What starts as a hard-edged portrayal reflecting the right-wing nastiness that plagues the American scene these days--and Coogan does well playing an American—descends into an unbelievable plot resolution. Good luck to you if you can accept how it all works out, thereby undercutting the toughness encountered at the outset and diluting the film’s topicality. A Freestyle Releasing release. Reviewed August 23, 2019.