ALAN PARTRIDGE aka ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA (2013)
Running Time: 90 mins. Rating: x Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Declan Lowney
Cast: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Simon Delaney, Monica Dolan, Tim Key, Felicity Montagu, Paul Blackwell, Sean Pertwee, Anna Maxwell Martin, Elizabeth Berrington
If you think that the U.S. is the only country that specializes in egomania, you should get out more often, specifically in this case to the movies. Steve Coogan, Britain’s funniest comedian, inhabits the role of Alan Partridge, admitting that he feels “puffed up” by the madcap events that unfold on one particular day, and no wonder. While Declan Lowney’s ALAN PARTRIDGE, is ostensibly about a hostage taking situation, a siege as it were, it’s really about Alan Partridge, a fellow that many Americans may not be acquainted with. However, in England he’s a household word, a fictional person who has had ups and downs from life like the rest of us. But, he has the media to explain himself. He has been on national television. He has been a radio broadcaster after being demoted to that older medium. He has had a nervous breakdown and has self-published a book “Bouncing Back,” which was remaindered. It’s all on BBC America, perhaps the best cable channel that tv has to offer.
The current movie shows Steve Coogan in virtually every scene —broadcasting, cracking jokes, running backwards and forwards, even getting stuck when trying to crawl through a window and winding up upside down with his trousers stripped right from his waist by the vindictive window. He’s a funny man indeed, the humor both physical and verbal, but with the fast-paced, zany script giving him opportunities for some gems of comic wit.
For example, instructing his sidekick at the Norfolk, England radio station about the uses of humor, he holds that you should “never make jokes about Muslims; about Jews, a little bit…that Neil Diamond is still King of the Jews.” And Christians, well you can say anything you want about them, he believes.
We in the U.S. who fear job loss about as much as anything else will relate to Alan Partridge’s barging into a corporate meeting, the bigwigs trying to decide whether to fire Alan or the guy with the late-night program, Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney). After Alan convinces them that Pat should be sacked, beginning by dropping hints that Pat is a union man and graduating to writing straight-out on the board “Pat should be sacked,” he and the corporate guys and the others at the broadcast station are held hostage by an infuriated Pat, now imprisoning them with a rifle. The cops convince Alan to return to the station as a hostage negotiator. As the danger increases, Alan sees himself as a media hero, becomes puffed up, and becomes embroiled in a dilemma that, if this were a serious movie, could cause him his life.
Others in the cast have their own shticks, flinging out what might be called British humor that survives well across the Atlantic. While Colm Meaney operates as a great straight man, others in the cast like Tim Key as “Sidekick” Simon Denton, Felicity Montagu as Lynn Benfield who takes special care of Alan, and Paul Blackwell as the humorless police officer who fills out the cast nicely.
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