Review: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Originally posted here for The University of Sheffield (ForgePress) on 09/08/2013

Pre-edit version:

Partridge fans can breathe a sigh of relief as Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa lives up to its hype and is full of classic Alan lines that will have you in ruddy stitches.

The film focuses on Alan (Steve Coogan) being the middle man in a siege after his friend Pat (Colm Meaney) goes beserk with a shotgun at their radio station after being sacked when the station is taken over by a company who wish to modernise it and get rid of dead weight. Alan is the only person Pat will talk to but little does he know that Alan is responsible for his redundancy after Alan decided to save his own skin and throw Pat straight into the firing line.

The plot sounds slightly outlandish for Alan Partridge but it is not all explosions and gunfire as one might expect or fear. The film’s main focus is unquestionably comedy and it delivers laugh after laugh, and not just appreciative chuckles, but full-on throaty cackles.

No prior knowledge of Alan Partridge is needed (I took an Alan-virgin friend with me and she bloody loved it) and the film is bound to please cult followers and newbies alike with its quick wit and perfect comedic timing.

It works without the T.V.’s laughter track but takes about ten minutes to really start and get used to the spoof DJ being on the big screen. Many familiar faces appear in the film, including Michael (Simon Greenall), Lynn (Felicity Montagu), side-kick Simon (Tim Key) and Alan’s old rival Dave Clifton (Phil Cornwell). Michael’s character is criminally underused however but does manage to get in some golden lines and Lynn is more likeable than ever. Simon’s character is able to develop and Clifton spews some disgusting yet hilarious stories about his troubled past.

The film picks up well from where “I’m Alan Partridge” and the intermittent comic relief reincarnations left off and it is hard to believe that Alan has been away from our screens for over ten years. This is a sign that the transition from television to film has been smooth and this is down to the great writing that has managed to preserve all the best bits of Alan and co. The pace is decent and the film is neither too long nor too short and is able to establish all the characters without excluding those who have never experienced the Partridge gang before or over-doing it for those who know them well.

The British references and uniquely English awkwardness make it a triumph for British comedy and will likely prompt a new generation of Partridge fans. Coogan has preserved Partridge’s legendary status by keeping him quiet for years and this film is the perfect hit for those of us who crave more Partridgisms and scenes of awkward jogging.

A must see and the best British comedy film this country has seen since Hot Fuzz, Alpha Papa is a back-of-the-net success worth multiple viewings and Alan Partridge continues to reign as one of the funniest comedy characters ever created.