Alan Partridge has always been a character that never got famous outside of the U.K. In my country most people don’t know Alan while other British comedies like Bottom, Mr. Bean, Allo Allo and Fawlty Towers are known to basically everyone in The Netherlands. If it wasn’t for some channel flipping one sunday morning in the late 90’s I would’ve been one of the many who not knew who Partridge was, but I stumbled upon him and since then saw both the “I’m Alan Partridge” series as well as his talk show “Knowing Me, Knowing You”. Classic British comedy now followed by a motion picture: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Now bringing TV shows to the big screen is a tricky one. Most shows benefit from a 20-30 minute running time which packs all the punches and since movies have to appeal to a wider audience sometimes changes are made that change the fundaments of the original series or the larger budget now grants the makers to have their character leave his living room or local town and travel the world. But that’s a choice that hardly works. Bean: The Movie is a good example and though I laughed my ass off with the Bottom movie “Guest House Paradiso” it was a critical and commercial failure. I’m happy to say that Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa avoids the pitfalls and is a fun 90 minute slice of Alan.
The movie is a true sequel to the TV series as Alan is still employed as a local DJ for North Norfolk Digital. He’s still as blunt as ever and has no idea how awkwardly his remarks mostly are. But progress comes knocking on the door as a big conglomerate is taking over the radio station having the elder league of DJs fear for their jobs. This fear is not unsubstantiated as fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meany) does get the sack. During a party celebrating the takeover he shows up with a shotgun and takes everybody hostage. Since his only true friend at the station was Alan, he becomes the face of the siege as he’s the only one to stand into contact with both Pat and the police.
Though the character of Alan Partridge works in various settings, he’s at best when he’s trying to get his career back on tracks or a much needed boost. This is a guy who goes to a funeral in sponsored clothing, so it’s no surprise that when the hostage taking is in full place Alan sees this as an ideal opportunity to give his career a boost and get on the good side of his new bosses, unless Pat decides to kill them that is.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is basically a Steve Coogan one man show. He dominates almost every scene and generates almost all the laughs. Both Lynn and Michael return as well in small but welcome roles and the plot is pretty tight and never loses focus. It’s as if the writers first wrote a hostage movie, then decided to change the leading character from a hero to Alan Partridge.
Now that the year is almost over I can almost safely conclude that this might be the funniest movie I saw this year. It made me laugh more than The World’s End or any other generic heap of comedy coming from the States like The Heat or The Internship.