Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – A Review

August 15, 2013 6:23 pm

‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ is the kind of film that will have you leaving the cinema quoting it for hours afterwards. It is not just funny; it is insanely funny. ‘Alpha Papa’ has been worked on ever since being green-lit in 2004, and it’s delivery in 2013 sure does, well, deliver.

Alan has fallen from grace since being sacked from the BBC and is now working at a digital radio channel, North Norfolk Digital. He is not as brash as he was in the Sitcom and actually shows a little humility. This humility was shown best at a later point in the film as Alan shows regret that his life didn’t work out as hoped. In this revealing moment, Partridge reveals that his unrealised dream was to “drive a Range Rover whilst towing a speedboat.” A humble aspiration, but an indication that Partridge’s life is not what he hoped it to be.

Alpha Papa is set during the corporate takeover of North Norfolk Digital, where Partridge works. During the buyout we see his old pal, Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) get the axe for not fitting the new owners’ modern-day image. So with shades of Michael Douglas’ ‘Falling Down’, Pat holds a good old fashioned siege and will only communicate with press and Police through Alan. This sees Alan gain the public attention he has always craved. For an attention seeker like Alan Partridge, this is perfect. Only problem, he got Pat sacked and Alan becomes the face of the siege. He is ‘siege-face’.

Whilst the script is an adage to classic British sitcoms, full of witty one-liners and overloaded with well thought out slapstick, the Alan Partridge character does not mesh well with the movie format. Over the course of the film, Alan Partridge’s character is fleshed out to show more depth, and as a consequence, he begins to show signs of remorse for his actions. This is at odds with what makes Alan Partridge great as a comedy character. He is brash, obnoxious and seemingly unredeemable in some respects, yet this is what makes him so endearing. Alan Partridge is the fool, but a loveable fool; unwilling to accept his faults. Therefore seeing him filled with regret for costing Pat his job does not sit well with what fundamentally makes the character appealing. However, the fact that Pat is wielding a shotgun for most of the film may be an inciting reason for most of his regret.

That’s not to say that there has been a complete 180 degree turn with his character. He is still an unrelenting shyster who takes full advantage of the siege to further his public image and his radio career. This is consistent with Partridge’s desire throughout the original sitcom to be more than just a local radio Disc Jockey. Alan’s constant undermining and mistreatment of his Personal Assistant, Lynn Benfield (Felicity Montagu) is as rife as it was in the Sitcom. Watching Alan – with all his arrogance and ego – boss around the timid and mousey Lynn is still a comical joy to watch.

The siege storyline gets stale quickly as the story is confined to the interior of the radio station for the first hour. The narrative is saved in the last twenty minutes of the film, as Alan and Pat go on the road from a mobile radio studio, presenting the Radio as they see fit and not to fit into a corporate ideology. With this, a cross-country police chase ensues as the old, beaten up mobile studio rattles around the country at around ten miles-per-hour with a trail of twenty police cars in tow. Moving from the hostage situation in the radio studio and out onto the road gave the narrative an extra breath of life and turned what could have been a slog of a finale into something exciting and hilarious. Not going to spoil it, but the line ‘I’ve gone septic’ makes this part of the film. You’ll have to wait and see on this one.

For fans of Alan Partridge, this is a long-awaited moment in cinema and they will not be disappointed. Those who aren’t charmed by Alan’s flawed but loveable persona will enjoy it for what it is. That being a film that will arm you with an armoury of one-liners to quote until your friends are sick of your voice. ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ is a reminder of what comedy should be. Well thought out and witty dialogue that is coupled with fantastic physical comedy. Alongside the use of music to enhance the humour, and multidimensional characters that are funny with every aspect of their personality, this is a comedy master class that everybody could, and should enjoy.

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