AHA! It’s finally arrived, the big-screen debut of one of Britain’s most ‘loved’ TV comic characters, Alan Partridge, stars in his own action epic, ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’.
This is the funniest film I’ve seen this summer. I laughed more in its 90 minutes running time than in either ‘The World’s End’, or ‘This is the End’ (reviews of which may be coming soon!).
However, it is as much down to the writing of the character, from Armando Iannucci, Rob and Neil Gibbons and Peter Banyham, aswell as Coogan, that make Partridge…well Partridge! The lines he spews out in his dulcet Norfolk tones match those seen in previous works, lines like ‘”He’s like a Geordie Anne Frank!”‘, or the Jews debate, it’s top notch stuff that makes the role the role.
The storyline revolves around the most recent time in the on-going story of Alan Partridge, with his spell at North Norfolk Digital. The company has been bought out by a ‘synergy’ favouring new media company, who change the brand up and are intending to get rid of one of the two ‘old-timers’ on the schedule. Alan presses them to give Irish DJ Pat Farrell the chop, and there we have our set-up, an angry Farrell returns to the newly renamed ‘Shape’ radio station to wreak havoc with a shotgun in hand.
It is essentially a 90 minute episode, an extended slice of Partridge’s life, but the fact that this is the case, that the quality remains and it doesn’t become a ‘Kevin and Perry Go Large’, style epidemic, is to be applauded. I see parallels with it and another successful British TV-to-film transformation made a couple of years ago, ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’. Both exceeded expectations of their fervent fanbases, and in the Inbetweeners case, went on to make big money at home, with little impact anywhere else globally. I hope the same sort of success hits ‘Alpha Papa’, as it is ridiculously funny, a pure British film, that no other country would ‘get’.
Chuck in some of Alan’s supporting characters, his long-suffering assistant Lynn, Michael the Geordie and Phil Cornwell as DJ Dave Clifton and you’ve got the essence of what made Coogan’s character such a popular creation. Then, chuck in Darren Boyd as a crap negotiator, ‘Four Lions’, Nigel Lindsay (Barry if you were wondering!) as the new boss and the excellent Colm Meaney as the menacing, but ultimately Partridge-esque, Farrell and we get a bit of comic talent too.
I liked that the film stuck to its Norfolk roots, not whisking Alan off on a US tour, as another loved British comic character Mr Bean faced in the 90s, but relying on the man himself to carry the film. It more or less all takes places with the confines of a radio station, tough for an action-comedy (although the ‘action’ must be taken with a pinch of salt, it must be said). I have to say I did like it for the brief moments it ventured outside of the studio, perhaps we could see a sequel of some sorts, if the creative talent and financials all work together.
It may have took a long time to finally get here, but it was worth the wait, ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’, is a very funny film, that had most of the audience laughing throughout and that is a triumph for any comic film.