a l a n p a r t r i d g e : a l p h a p a p a
7th August 2013
6th August 2013
Small screen to big screen is often a difficult step. Check out Kevin & Perry or David Caruso for example. Or The Saint. Or pretty much any other transition we can think of. None of them were exactly successful. So news of Alan’s big screen outing was a mixed blessing. Would Norfolk’s most famous fictional son translate? Would it just be an extended episode or would they blow it completely and transfer him to Vegas for some reason? Fortunately the team have done none of those things. Alan is still very much a local DJ for local people….
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. I’m still slightly upset that my favourite alternative name from the teaser trailer (Colossal Velocity) wasn’t used. But you can understand the reasoning – Alan very much wants to be at the centre of everything occurring in this film. And he succeeds. Coogan inhabits pretty much every frame of this film, barring a few moments when for example, Lynn is retrieved by the police.
We pick up the story with Alan hosting Mid-Morning Matters on North Norfolk Digital with co-host / Sidekick Simon (played brilliantly by Tim Key), something he’s been doing for a couple of years on You Tube. A new owner is in town though in the shape of money-centric conglomerate Gordale Media and jobs are on the line. When Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) gets the axe from his graveyard slot on weeknight evenings, he does not take it well and stages an armed siege at the newly branded Shape (The Way You Want it to Be) radio. Although Alan initially manages to flee the scene, he is soon dragged back into the fray when Pat refuses to negotiate through anyone else.
AP: AP is a superb translation for Alan to the big screen. It very defiantly keeps its localness and it manages to just about convince as a siege, even when Alan is hanging out of a window with no trousers on. Strictly speaking it does have guns, romance, drama, fights and a car (well, van) chase but it’s all so brilliantly low key and local that every single thing that happens is laugh out loud funny. Well, some of it is smile out loud funny but you’ll still come out of the screen with aching jaws from the sheer number of gags that are thrown at you.
Gags are another area the film balances perfectly. Alan’s totally inability to know when a comment is appropriate or not fits in perfectly with the setting. I won’t spoil too many but for the sake of proving this example, on seeing somebody jump off a pier in a vain attempt to save Alan by distracting the shotgun wielding Pat, Alan’s reaction is merely to shrug it off – ‘trying to create a distraction I think…. Bit pointless really…’ is his deadpan response.
The key to all of this is of course Coogan. In Iannucci’s words ‘Alan was always about ten years older than Steve, but I think Steve is catching up’. He is of course Alan and the superbly graceless way that Alan has aged since his debut on screen in The Day Today is a key feature here. Alan is desperate to connect with an audience he doesn’t understand and doesn’t really see himself as one of and will grab any chance to help himself along. If it happens to benefit others, so be it but more often than not, well, it’s Alan, you know what happens.
I don’t really need to sell this to you beyond saying if you love Alan, this film will not let you down. It’s one of the most consistently funny films I think I’ve ever seen (and I don’t say that lightly) and it’s one that I want to revisit in order to catch all the stuff I inevitably missed this time around. Jump on board the North Norfolk Digital bus and try not to get stuck in the septic tank.
Check out the best trailer (that is, the teaser) here.