‘For at least an hour of the film I’ve got a stitch through constant laughter’ – Not my words, but the words of the Norwich Advertiser!
I’ll be honest, when I first heard there was going to be an Alan Partridge movie I thought it sounded like a sketch for Comic Relief. Steve Coogan’s comedy character meeting Steven Spielberg and reeling off movie suggestions similar to that time he pitched TV shows to the head of BBC commissioning – Monkey Tennis, Inner City Sumo, arm wrestling with Chas ‘n’ Dave’ etc. But no, it really is happening. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – a feature length film has been made and it is, dare I say, mostly funny.
I’m joking, it’s better than that. It’s ruddy brilliant. So often popular TV characters make the leap to the big screen only to disappoint (Keith Lemon’s 2012 summer film a recent example) but Alpha Papa has everything that people have come to enjoy about Alan Partridge over the years plus a whole lot more.
Unlike the endless stream of generic Hollywood film comedies and romcoms with characters you instantly forget the names of the moment they’re finished, Alan Partridge arrives on screen fully-formed after being created by Coogan in the early 1990’s and with a back catalogue of appearances in a range of formats. Radio, TV, book and internet with each one bringing something new, yet familiar to audiences. In the film, the joke to scene ratio is impressive and up alongside anything we’ve seen Partridge in before. When you’re not laughing it’s usually because there’s a nice thick slice of melancholy or pathos acting as a breakwater between laughing noise out your mouth and stiffling it so you can hear the poignant bits of dialogue.
The film’s wisely resisted the temptation of taking Partridge out of his natural habitat and keeps the character true to his roots with a plot that could’ve easily been in one of the TV episodes of ‘I’m Alan Partridge’. The radio station Partridge now hosts a show on ‘North Norfolk Digital’ is taken over by a big media giant, and when one of his fellow DJ’s (Colm Meaney) is sacked, Partridge becomes embroiled in a hostage crisis. The element of jeopordy that this injects into the film sees Partridge become a sort of action-anti-hero and fans will be reassured to see some familiar characters make welcome cameos all the way, but the true star is Coogan who delivers a plethora of Partridgisms with his usual attention to detail. What also helps lift the film from TV to the big screen is director Declan Lowney’s (Father Ted, Moone Boy) use of Norwich and areas in Norfolk in a way that TV Partridge didn’t have the time or budget to do.
But the best thing about Alpa Papa is the experience of watching it in a cinema full of people laughing (mostly) at the same time at the escapades of one the greatest comedy characters ever created. Lovely stuff.
Catch it now at Showcase Peterborough for show times visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk.
Director: Declan Lowney
Cast: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Sean Pertwee