Thursday, 10 October 2013

Film Review: Alan Partridge - Alpha Papa

Words: Graeme Roberts

A-ha!  Crash, bang, wallop - what a movie!  Norwich-based radio broadcaster Alan Partridge is the latest British comedy character to attempt the leap from the small screen to the silver screen, and he pulls it off in some style. Jurassic Park!

Packed full of hilarious lines (“Which is the worst monger - iron, fish, rumour or war?”), cringe-worthy moments of social awkwardness and the occasional piece of well-judged slapstick humour, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is the funniest British comedy since Borat.  Back of the net!

Unlike many contemporary films, the trailer for Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa does not cram all the best bits in and leave nothing for the cinema.  This is mainly because the jokes in the film are free-flowing and consistently very, very funny.

The trailer for Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Indeed, as Alan himself might say, I found myself laughing approximately once every 45 seconds during the film, which is a cracking ratio by any standards.  If you want a reliable method of gauging for the effectiveness of comedy, laughs-per-minute is a ruddy good barometer.

The plot is straight-forward yet sufficiently flexible to yield enough interest and laughs to last the full 90 minutes.  A trendy company called Shape takes over North Norfolk Digital and aims revamp the radio station’s image, meaning either Alan or Irish dullard Pat Farrell will lose his job.  After some indulgent brown-nosing, Alan escapes the axe and continues his Mid-Morning Matters show with sidekick Simon.  However, Pat does not take the news of his sacking too well.  That’s something of an understatement, as Pat arms himself with a shotgun, gate-crashes the re-launch party and takes several of the station’s staff hostage.  Pat then selects his presumed ally Alan to act as mediator between himself and the police camped outside the building.

Naturally, Alan is as hopeless a negotiator as he is a DJ, with his vanity and lack of self-awareness leading to a series of rib-tickling gaffes.  Therein lies the brilliance of the Partridge character: pompous and relentlessly selfish, Alan continues to try to curry favour with his bosses even during the most sensitive of gun-point situations.  Ultimately, Partridge is a sad, middle-aged man whose ego comes first, with everything else trailing in its disastrous wake.  Yet he is likeable, because his quips are oddly witty and his flaws are eerily recognisable - there is something of the Partridge in all of us.

A clip from the TV series. Alan tries to get the attention of his new friend Dan.

A couple of characters from the TV series transfer successfully, with Alan’s long-suffering assistant Lynn and kooky Geordie friend Michael both providing some majestic moments, but ultimately Alan is the greatest source of laughs.  Steve Coogan’s comic creation pre-dates, has outlived and is altogether more accomplished than his closest copy, David Brent in The Office (Michael Scott in the US version). 

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is an outstanding example of wonderfully-written, expertly-performed comedy and must surely cement the status of Alan Partridge as one of the funniest fictional characters of all time.   

Oxford Road rating: ★★★★★ 

Find the film on IMDB: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

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