In 2013, Steve Coogan starred in a gem of a movie, Alan Partridge, about a self-centered disc jockey struggling with age, sagging ratings and the looming reality that a new generation had left him behind. While he played an egomaniac, the film deftly offset Partridge’s boorishness with sincere British charm — along with perhaps the best driving-and-singing scene ever captured on screen.

In Hot Air, Coogan plays a similar character, just without the charm and the one-man carpool karaoke. And the loss is a crippling one.

Less a comedy than a broad swipe at America’s talk radio landscape and its right-wing followers, Hot Air takes aim at everything from hypocritical Evangelicals to homophobic xenophobes to gun-toting proponents of a border wall. More troubling, it seems to call for the eradication of talk shows that echo those sentiments with an odd catchphrase: “Talk isn’t cheap. It’s toxic.” The result is 100 minutes of, well, hot air.

Coogan plays Lionel Macomb, a Limbaugh-esque radio personality whose world is capsized when his mixed-race niece Tess (Taylor Russell) unexpectedly enters his life. On top of his personal life’s upheaval, Lionel’s protege, Gareth Whitely (Skylar Astin),  is gaining on him in the ratings with a soft, fuzzy and bland brand of conservatism, threatening Lionel’s 20-year reign at the top of the radio heap.

Directed by Frank Coraci, who helmed Adam Sandler’s hits The Waterboy and The Wedding SingerAir seems determined to take Coogan out of his affable screen persona and turn him into a modern-day Howard Beale, the darkly funny news anchor played by Peter Finch in 1976’s Network. But instead of earning followers with his anthemic “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Macomb comes off as simply mad as hell. Air may see itself styled after Network, but its cliched dialogue plays more like a Network trailer.

“You’ve done well for yourself telling other people how to think,” a character tells Macomb, a thinly-veiled shot at Limbaugh’s “ditto heads,” fans accused of having no thoughts of their own until given conservative marching orders.

It amounts to a wasted opportunity to take a darkly comic look and the incendiary, polarized landscape of American politics. And it doesn’t help that Coraci overloads the film with unnecessary plot strands, including Macomb’s strained romantic relationship with  Valerie (Neve Campbell), a publicist who is trying to save her boss’ career while opening his heart.

Campbell and Russell do a serviceable job in the limited space they’re granted in an anemic script by first-time screenwriter Will Reichel, and Astin aptly plays a double-talker who uses the Bible for ratings, not redemption. But it’s undeniably Coogan’s movie, and he gets some laughs when he gets behind the microphone. Too bad he’s undercut by an American accent that slips in and out of his natural British cadence.

Earlier this year, Coogan faced a real-life scare: The comedian, known for being a lead foot behind the wheel, faced a six-month driving suspension for speeding through a British thoroughfare in his Porsche. After Coogan explained that driving was integral to his upcoming Alan Partridge travelogue TV series, the judge lessened the suspension to two months and told the actor to lay off the gas pedal. He probably should have suggested Coogan lay off the politics, too.