STUDIOCANAL UK (2013)
Director: Declan Lowney
Starring: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Felicity Montagu, Simon Greenall, Sean Pertwee
Just sack Pat.
Defining words scrawled on a flipchart by a man determined to save his cherished role at North Norfolk Digital radio station – that man is Alan Partridge (Coogan). With a boardroom tossing up whether to sack Partridge or his colleague, late night DJ Pat Farrell (Meaney), after a takeover from a major conglomerate, Partridge ambles his way through his reasons to keep him on board before settling on the big three words. However, at a company party, Pat seeks retribution and armed with a shotgun holds the staff inside hostage with his demand to be reinstated ringing clear.
Being outside during the event, Partridge is utilised as a negotiator between the police outside and Farrell inside – if there’s a man for the job, it’s not Alan Partridge!
Taking any classic character and putting them on the big screen successfully can be a tough task (Mr. Bean, Absolutely Fabulous) and Partridge seemed to be in the same boat – a short TV comedy needing to be expanded upon. Luckily, Coogan and co. hit upon a good idea and ran with it. Also, in putting Partridge on the big screen allowed for Coogan to go in different directions with the character – though his act of negotiating is simply to bolster his own reputation nationally, same old Alan.
As expected, the movie is full of acerbic humour and cringe, and for the most part these all hit the spot. Coogan knows the character inside-out (after 20+ years) and his shameless, unwitting rascal is clearly having fun on the silver screen riffing against Meaney as hostage and negotiator. The fact Partridge is the reason Meaney got fired is funny enough, let alone that he tries to conceal this for as long as possible. The supporting cast all turn in movie carrying performances and Meaney is fun as the charming yet scorned ex-DJ.
The humour flows think throughout, with Coogan’s brand of awkward comedy blended with visual gags – he manages to have his testicles photographed unknowingly, he shoots himself and dreams of heroically blowing Pat away with his own shotgun but the effort would be too much. He also finds a ladyfriend within the hostages, but we don’t get a deep dive into the personal life of Alan, we don’t need to either.
Thankfully, the writing allows Coogan to stay faithful to the character and not tread into parody or pandering. His radio show is still crammed with banal phone ins (“what smell would you miss the most?” he asks his listeners) and soft rock anthems. He is at his best when playing off of his long-suffering PA Lynn (Montagu) and she finally gains some confidence with every new hairstyle.
Coogan and co. have managed to create a fun, enjoyable and importantly great TV-to-cinema adaptation, keeping with the spirit of the character and also expanding somewhat. Anything over the 90-minute runtime would have begun to negatively affect the movie as it began to reach stretching point, but with jokes ranging from Ann Frank to racism via religion, it never overstays it’s welcome.
Quotable and fun, Partridge is finally allowed to play out his action hero dreams…sort of.
April 29th 2017