Back of the Net.
When films are made of television characters and shows, often they do not quite live up to expectations, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa however did not go ‘tits up’. It’s a hilarious ode to all things Partridge, who has now gone just a little bit Hollywood.
Creating a film based on a comedy character with such a strong history and such a large fan base is a fine balancing act for sure, you have to live up to fans expectations as well as making the film approachable for those not as acquainted with said character, sometimes this can come off as obvious to the point of repetition and just plain bad writing. But Steve Coogan and the rest of his writing team (including series’ stalwart Armando Iannucci) have done a marvellous job with Alan Partridge, every line is crammed full of the humour we have all grown to love over the years in perhaps the most action packed and tense situation Partridge will ever find himself in.
The film is set almost entirely in North Norfolk Digital, whose recent takeover has seen long-time DJ Pat Farrell lose his job and hold a potentially violent siege in said radio station. As Pat’s closest friend, Alan is sent in by the police to try and defuse the situation, as he is the only person Pat will talk to. Trouble is, Alan enjoys himself far too much.
This simple plot works wonderfully and gives greater depth to Alan’s character, who is more interested in the publicity he receives than actually defusing the situation. As the film takes place almost entirely in one building, we see each character working off each other, and as such the script is full of hilarious conversations that give insight to the film’s great bunch of fictional radio personalities, some aggravate Alan while others he just wants to please.
Films that put such a large emphasis on character interaction require a good cast with the ability to roll lines’ off one-another, and luckily, Alpha Papa’s cast is brilliant. Coogan fires from all cylinders as Alan Partridge, giving yet again a fantastic performance full of facial expressions and voices that only he could provide. Familiar faces and fan-favourites Lynn (Felicity Montagu) and Michael (Simon Greenall) make their long-overdue return spectacularly well while new faces Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney), Angela (Monica Dolan), Jason Tresswell (Nigel Lindsay) and Steve Stubbs (Sean Pertwee) bolster the cast of characters very well. We see Darren Boyd as one of the major police-officers in the film and Tim Key’s Sidekick Simon round out the film’s eclectic mix of characters very nicely. There is not a single bad actor in the bunch, and each member of the cast provides excellent banter with Coogan’s Partridge.
Of course, a character comedy such as this requires a good script; Alpha Papa’s is hilarious and very well paced. It provides key interactions with many characters for Alan, who is as funny as he has ever been. Throughout the film there are subtle jokes (when Alan is reading from his laptop) and nods to the TV show we all know and love through returning characters Michael and Lynn, who are just as good as they ever have been, providing key counterparts to Alan’s bizarre ways. The writers and director Declan Lowney truly have crafted an amazingly funny and well thought out vehicle for Alan Partridge to flourish.
However, the character of Alan is a little different from the one we know from the television series’. He is not quite as awkward to watch as he once was and his sense of style seems to have changed ever so slightly. This could be easily explained by the fact that this is an older Alan, one who has worked for North Norfolk Digital for a number of years; it is only natural for one’s style to change ever so slightly throughout the years but it is worth mentioning for fans of the original series’. It also may be the projection of his character onto the big-screen that makes him seem slightly different as television works differently to film and it is not the 1990s anymore, Alan has moved into the twenty-first century, the main theme of the film.
The film plays out mostly in the confines of the radio station – where the siege is taking place – and Alan loves the limelight. He is once again in the attention of the media, and he loves it – he is ‘siege face’. Once things get more out of hand however is when we see Alan dealing with the situation the only way he knows how, through the radio. There are some overlying themes of the harsh differences between the radio of old and the digital radio of the modern days. And Alan’s reaction to the change does come off as a tad cheesy and predictable, but entirely in Alan’s own, inimitable, fashion. Despite this the film does end hilariously and on a high-note, kind of rounding out Alan’s life and career nicely, hopefully this does not mean we will not see him again however as there is always more room for Alan Partridge in anybody’s life.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is just as funny as you would hope, full of subtle jokes, rubbery faces, successful bringing back of favourite characters and a good, simple plot with plenty of scope for character development and brilliant interaction. Some however may find the “new”, older Alan a little strange compared to what they are used to, but it really only is an incredibly slight difference.
Steve Coogan, Armando Iannuchi, Declan Lowney and co. have crafted Alan Partridge’s movie debut very successfully. It’s hilarious from start to finish and completely chock-full of superb comedy acting from the first scene. Jurassic Park.