Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Aha! Kiss my cheek! Everyone’s favourite TV-cum-Radio-Norfolk-Digital-presenter Alan Partridge finally makes the leap from the small screen (and smaller screen, if you’ve been following his webisodes online). But does Partridge transition from short bursts on the boob tube to a 90 minute silver screen adventure? Well, put your hat hard on.. I mean hat hard on- Oh, I’ve said it again. Put your hard hat on (there we go) and we shall find out.
When small town radio station North Norfolk Digital is taken over by a multinational conglomerate and retooled as Shape, a hip station for young people, radio presenter Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) is let go – thanks to a nudge from former big time TV host, now small time radio presenter, Alan Partridge. That night, at the launch party for the station’s rebranding, Pat takes the station and its staff hostage. Though Alan escapes, he is sent back in by police when Farrell refuses to negotiate with anyone but Partridge, the only man he thinks stood up for him. As the tensions inside escalate, media and public presence grow larger, tempting Alan to milk the situation for all it’s worth.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa brings back many of peoples favourites from the TV show, most notably the downtrodden Lynn, the not-quite-right-in-the-head Michael, and Partridge’s long suffering (yet much more likeable) Sidekick Simon.
Film adaptations of TV shows can be a mixed bag, especially with smaller shows. Just look at League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse for an example of how difficult it can be – there’s a tendency too raise the budget and throw in incongruous action elements. The big question here will always be ‘does the film live up to the TV show?’, and Alpha Papa rings in with a resounding yes.
Leaving behind the pseudo-documentary style of the TV show, the film is glossy and big budgeted, with action pieces galore. Knowing it is taking the ridiculousness of the Partridge character and bringing the Hollywood-like action to small town Britain, the film has shades of Hot Fuzz, but never descends to all out warfare. The entire time, the action is cut short by the cowardly Partridge, exchanging and undercutting the extreme situation with side-splitting humour.
Steve Coogan has always brought the goods with his Alan Partridge character, a man so low but so unaware of it, that you can’t help but love to hate him and all the awful situations he gets himself into. He is on top form here as Partridge ups the ante, his daydreams of being the hero, but the reality of just being plain old Alan keeping him from ever taking action (nor really wanting to). Meaney is the fantastic counter-Partridge; a rough Irish man of action, being the straight man to Partridge’s social awfulness. He exists to further Coogan’s hilarity. In fact, all the characters exist to do the same, and they all succeed.
Alan Partridge’s cringe-factor has been eased back somewhat, making for entertaining viewing for those unfamiliar with the show or character, but this is a double-edged sword. Though a very funny film through and through, not even losing its way in the final act (as so many comedies do), Partridge doesn’t make you grit your teeth in embarrassment quite as much as he used to. Perhaps they couldn’t give the time for him to go on an unwarranted middle-class rage, but it might leave many fans a little bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, the film is still hilarious and never lets up for one minute, but it is more a gentle embrace of the Partridge legacy than the toe-curdling climax of it.
Comedy fans rejoice, this is a truly funny film. Partridge fans rejoice, for Alan is on great form. The film delivers the laughs and the action in near-perfect amounts, leaving you wanting more Partridge.
My god, MORE Partridge?!