Written by Anthony Sargon
“Alan Partridge”, or “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” as it was originally released in the U.K, is the big-screen debut of Steve Coogan’s fictional radio-host character; Alan Partridge. I walked into the flick with absolutely no prior knowledge of the character, so I didn’t exactly know what to expect. To my delight, I discovered a funny and surprisingly smart comedy that I can easily recommend to anyone.
When a local radio station in Norwich (England) gets acquired by a giant conglomerate, some employees begin to worry about losing their jobs. Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) doesn’t seem to be worried at all, unlike fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney). When Pat gets sacked, he returns to the station armed with a shotgun, and proceeds to lock himself and a number of hostages in the building. Alan gets thrust right in the middle of things when he’s asked to act as mediator between Pat and the police. As you can imagine, things don’t exactly go as planned, and Alan’s ego begins to get in the way of any rational thought.
Partridge is a self-centered asshole; he doesn’t really care about anyone but himself, and actually begins to take advantage of the situation when he realizes that the siege is getting him nationwide coverage. Fortunately for the audience, Coogan makes Partridge an extremely likable character, and he keeps the laughs coming. Directed by Declan Lowney and co-written by Steve Coogan, the film is consistently funny thanks to snappy, witty dialogue, as well as a great ensemble performance. Coogan and Colm Meaney, who share a lot of screen time, are particularly great.
What I really didn’t expect was the film’s willingness to tackle actual and relatable themes, such as loss and the fear of change. These are two middle-aged men coming to terms with a culture that’s changing faster than they can keep up. It’s about a man dealing with the loss of his wife and his inability to move on. And yet, the film never takes a serious turn or gets bogged down by these themes; it merely plays them for laughs, and it works.