Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Steve Coogan’s TV legend explodes onto the big screen. Jackanackanory…

Alan Partridge has worked his way through many guises over the years. From his early days as a sports reporter on The Day Today (1994), through to presenting his very own chat show and then working as a radio broadcaster, this fictional TV character is narcissistic, selfish, but constantly hilarious, whether he intends to be or not. Over the years Alan has also become a classic comedy icon and has been greatly missed – not always by the characters onscreen, but certainly by the audience who love his outlandish (and bizarre) humour, constant mistakes, and especially his endlessly quotable dialogue. This has meant that a big screen outing for Steve Coogan’s most famous (and funniest) incarnation has long been on the cards. And finally that time is here with Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013).

The last time we saw Alan was in the web series Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge (2010–2011) (which was later shown on Sky) showing his work as a DJ for North Norfolk Digital. And not much has changed since then. He still works there along with Sidekick Simon (the brilliant Tim Key), and he is still barely hanging on to the job with his increasingly bizarre chats and choice of music. So when a corporation comes along to buy out the station and make it new and exciting, as well as appeal to a younger crowd, it might be the end of the road for Alan. The only solution?: tell the bigwigs to sack someone else even more old-hat than him. Trouble is when they do sack DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) instead, he isn’t about to leave without a bang. And before you can say “A-ha!” we have Alan Partridge: Action Hero.

When first watching Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa it seems strange to see Alan’s famous face on the big screen, a worrying prospect when you realise you have to sit through a whole feature-length film with him. Yet no more than 5 minutes in when Alan is rocking out in his car to a Roachford song, you know that this film outing for the Norfolk man will work. It is one of the funniest films I have seen in a long time, the jokes flying thick and fast throughout without one of them missing. As with the show, Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons, Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham’s script is filled with endlessly quotable dialogue as well as some scenes that are hilarious and are destined to become classic moments in the Alan Partridge back catalogue (you’ll definitely never hear the Ski Sunday theme tune the same way again…).

However as usual, the majority of the laughs come from the hapless man himself and the man who plays him. The 11-year hiatus from him (2 years if you count the brief web series) hasn’t affected Coogan’s perfect performance as the outlandish character. It also hasn’t affected Coogan’s ability to get a laugh from a simple facial expression, particularly when Alan starts to suspect he may be out of his depth. There are also other great cameos throughout that provide the laughs, especially from a few familiar faces from the TV series. Felicity Montagu as Lynn, Alan’s put-upon assistant, makes an appearance and is still just as timid and put-upon as ever. But Simon Greenall gets most of the laughs as Alan’s long-time friend Michael, who has moved from petrol station attendant to security guard at the radio station in which Alan works. As the Geordie ex-soldier he is even more naïve and confused than usual, and even more hilarious.

And yet despite the great humour and big laughs throughout Alpha Papa there are still a few points to the film that don’t always seem to work, mostly in certain aspects of the narrative. Overall it plays well and is ridiculously funny, but it is the action moments that take a lot of getting used to and that seem out-of-place with Alan involved. The plot also does somewhat outstay its welcome towards the end with a climax that is clever in execution but that drags on for just a bit too long. However one of the reasons for this may be down to the fact that we are only used to seeing Alan during a brief half hour show (unless you’re having a Partridge marathon of course…).

Still there are enough moments of genius in this to make you forgive the weak plot and slightly disappointing ending. In general Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa works well as a feature film the same way In the Loop (2009) worked as a film version of The Thick of It (2005–2012). And similar to that other big screen version, it too is bloody, ruddy hilarious. It’s one of the funniest films of the summer and towers over recent other Brit flick The World’s End (2013). Yes, it’s needless to say that Alan certainly has the last laugh here…

~ by square-eyed-geek on August 31, 2013.

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