Review: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

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The cinematic debut of Norwich’s first son, Alan Partridge, hit the screens after 22 years of the character appearing on Radio 4’s On The Hour back in 1991.

Those that know the character – played by Steve Coogan – will know what to expect from anything Alan appears in, if you don’t just Google the name. You should strap yourself in for some hard laughs because the gags really don’t stop from the very beginning, through a miming of Roachford’s song ‘Cuddly Toy’ through to the end of the film where Alan changes the song playing over the end credits from ‘Bounce’ by Calvin Harris to Sparks’ ‘Number 1 Song In Heaven’.

The basic plot is that the radio station Alan works for, North Norfolk Digital, is being taken over by Shape, a bigger company looking to bring the station into the present and, in doing so, get rid of some of the older-style DJs. While trying to save the job of his friend Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney), Alan sees that the choice for the axe is between him and Pat. With all the desperate egotism we’ve come to expect from Alan he encourages them to sack Pat.

At the launch party Pat returns with a shotgun and takes  the new and old staff hostage, Alan manages to escape and alert the police.  The awkward part is that Pat only wants to talk to the authorities via Alan, whom he does not know had him fired, so Alan accepts and comedy ensues anon.

There are some great cameos from Sean Pertwee as the leader of the police SWAT team, Nigel Lindsay as the MD of Shape who becomes public enemy number one or Pat Farrell, Simon Greenall who plays Alan’s Geordie mate Michael and Monica Dolan as Angela, Alan’s love interest. In fact the supporting cast is superb, but next to Steve Coogan and Colm Meany anyone will struggle to be noticed, but give them a watch too.

This film manages to take the essence of the comedy from the previous Partridge TV shows and convert it to the big screen, something that it usually either watered down, or amped up to an obscene degree. There is comedy to suit all senses of humour from the broad stuff (Alan miming to ‘Cuddly Toy’ and losing his trousers while trying to break back into the radio station after accidentally locking himself out), cringe comedy (which formed the prototype Ricky Gervais has built a career on but worked so much better with Alan), slap stick and subtle humour.

To say any more about the plot or any of the gags would be to give too much away because this is only a 90 minute film, which is refreshing as so many films in the last few years have been too long. The only criticisms I can find for this film are that if you aren’t a Partridge fan you probably won’t like it (but then why would you watch a film called Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa if you didn’t like Alan Partridge?) and that there are so many gags that there are times where you miss large chunks of dialogue. But this means that if you are a Partridge fan it will require you to go back for a repeat viewing.

If this is the end of Alan Partridge this isn’t a bad way to bow out, but I feel Alan will keep coming back until Steve Coogan can no longer act…and even then he may move back to radio shows. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, is great if you’re a fan, but you should probably steer clear if you aren’t.

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