Steve Coogan as the right-wing radio personality who has his life shaken up by an intrusive niece
Dir: Frank Coraci
Prod: Aimee Keen, Frank Coraci, Susan Leber
Screenplay: Will Reichel
Starring: Steve Coogan, Taylor Russel, Neve Campbell
Released by: Lionsgate
Running time: 99 Minutes
Released: Aug 2019
When a film starts with a jolting amount of studio logos it is never a promising entree. Especially when one of them is a company called "Spanknyce" and has a bare-bottomed cameraman as its logo. Pretty sure this will not have been a much sought after movie.
The always-good-value Steve Coogan is playing yet another right wing radio personality. this one is called Lionel Macomb. Spouting reactionary bile to get the angered everyman and hateful soccer-moms baying for immigrant blood. A movie that was always going to be either about politics or a sentimental journey. The focus appears to be on a bill being put through by liberal congresswoman. This is swiftly forgotten about and barely mentioned again. So we now know what it is going to be.
Hateful Lionel is visited by his never-met niece, Tess (Taylor Russel,) the daughter of his addict sister. He at first rejects her but after being admonished by his girlfriend Val (Neve Campbell) lets her stay and the two bond.
After learning she is a gifted student with a full scholarship to a prestigious school he encourages her to grow and tries to do the best he can for her. Sadly as this is happening his career is taking a nose dive and ratings are bombing. In a hatchet-job co-host segment he is blindsided by his rival, the congresswoman, thanks to Tess confiding to her intern some family secrets. After insulting the woman the show evolves into Lionel delivering a verbosely vitriolic rant at religion, the government, technology, and the populace. As his colleagues and loved ones shrink, he is belligerent, refusing to concede to any damage being done and shows a proud face. But it is clearly cracking.
As demons appear and memories return the wheel turns. The journeys end for all involved.
This is a garbage movie. As lazy and formulaic as it could possibly be. It is relentlessly implausible. Tess somehow finding him so swiftly, sneaking in, him deciding two days after turfing her out to have her emancipated and look after her. Every time she ruins something for him he rewards her for some reason. The insult he delivers to the congresswoman on the show, it is too much. No-one would get away with calling a member of the house something like that on live TV. It is just full of "never happens."
Also, the character of Tess, who we are supposed to root for, is not nearly as likeable as it wants us to find her. She has no boundaries, is ungrateful, she has a worker fired and is not nearly as apologetic as she should be. She has him eventually reinstated but her attitude of it being "all's well" is really off-putting.
The only strong female lead in Neve Campbell is so one-dimensional and paint-by-numbers it is cringe-worthy.
Coogan, as always, is a presence. His loquacious delivery is a treat, especially the monologue in the TV appearance but it is ruined by totally unnecessary editing. We are capable of waiting for the next word you know. Stop chopping, this is not Slumdog.
However, the main complaint is that it is nothing new. Nothing at all. It is certainly not a vehicle fit for veterans such as Coogan and Campbell. It is the mean old guy finds salvation in the cutesy lovableness of a downtrodden minor and has a forgiving aide and a conflict with a family member that will be resolved in a memory led romp. Then of course there is the important decision for the young character at the end, will she or won't she? Basically its Annie.
The fact she is mixed race and a niece of a man based on Rush Limbaugh and that fact is never mentioned or alluded to, is both pandering and insulting to the audience. It is as if the studio are saying: "Look at how we don't even SEE colour. We are so very humanitarian it hurts" and it is a total clunk. Hollyoaks level liberal cloying
Never was there a film so needing to be re-titled as "Wash, Rinse, Repeat." Maybe Spanky Films or whatever they are called will make that the sequel. I don't know. I do know that they owe me 99 minutes.