A lesson in fossil preservation; ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ (2013).

10 Aug

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa posterDirector Declan Lowney knows full well that his latest filmic endeavour, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa will only appeal to a very select body of people. Such a group includes fans of Partridge’s many appearances on BBC Radio 4, general appreciators of Steve Coogan and those who enjoy the sorts of syndicated television shows that appear on Dave and G.O.L.D… That’s about it, really. The director made famous by his managing of the immortal Father Ted is all too aware of this, and caters accordingly. As a fan of such homely British comedy, I found this film to be an absolute hoot.

Just to be clear; Alan Partridge is a fictional character portrayed by Steve Coogan. He is a ridiculous, hilariously uncool yet strangely endearing disc jockey for North Norfolk Digital FM, who hosts a drive-time talk show, with the odd Fleetwood Mac or Willie Nelson tune thrown in for good measure. As the radio station is bought over by some shallow business-types with the intentions of making it trendier and more ‘cool’, the evening show run by Partridge’s colleague Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) winds up as collateral damage and is cut altogether. The disgruntled Farrell goes AWOL and besieges the station, shotgun in hand; but if Alan Partridge can’t save the day, then who can!?

Steve Coogan's Partridge manages to be simultaneously repugnant and charming.

Steve Coogan’s Partridge manages to be simultaneously repugnant and charming.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is a quintessentially British affair that relies on good ol’ fashioned wit, funny facial expressions and situational comedy to deliver the laughs, rather than inflicting us with a tirade of swear words or unlikely slapstick. When compared to the two other comedic movies out right now, it (thankfully) lacks the scatology of Sandler’s catastrophic Grown-Ups 2, and there are no foul-mouthed Melissa McCarthys or awkward Sandra Bullocks to be seen, as in The Heat. Rather, this is the sort of film that uses actual jokes to tickle our collective funny bones. From the comically obtuse to his beleaguered assistant Lynn (played by Felicity Montagu) to the demented Farrell, this movie seldom lets up in the humour department.

However, that said, I know for a fact I’ll forget everything that happens in this movie in a week’s time. It brings absolutely nothing new or shiny to the comedy table, and to call it unoriginal would be an understatement. Sure, the juxtaposition of hilarity against the backdrop of a siege is doubtless entertaining, and some of the writing displays flashes of absolute genius (the assorted pokes at the Irish are unanimously hilarious), but in the end this is the sort of film you’ll see on Netflix in a few months and say “Oh yeah, I think I saw that”. But while you’re in the cinema, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is breezy fun. Just make sure you’re into this sort of humour.

Simon says: one for the fans.


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