Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Language, brief Violence and Nudity
Directed by: Declan Lowney
Written by: Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan, Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons & Armando Iannucci
Starring: Steve Coogan, Felicity Montagu, Simon Greenall, Colm Meaney & Tim Key
Alan Partridge is a character created by well-known comedian/actor Steve Coogan and has apparently been prevalent in British pop culture for years (including various TV series and radio shows). I’m willing to bet that most young twenty-something Americans (like myself) haven’t really heard much about this character at all. I certainly hadn’t until I saw the trailer for ALAN PARTRIDGE (which hit UK cinemas last summer and just began a VOD/limited theatrical run in the states). From the promotional material, it looked as if Steve Coogan was hamming it up and that this motion picture might be self-indulgent to a painful degree. How very wrong I was! I laughed all the way through ALAN PARTRIDGE. This is one comedy that I will most definitely watch again multiple times in the future. It’s fast, unforgiving, and the jokes come at a rapid pace. This movie will grow even funnier the more you watch it, because I was laughing so hard at some scenes that I had to rewind them. Sure enough, there were other subtle to over-the-top jokes that got me cracking up all over again.
Alan Partridge, the title character, is the ultimate narcissist. Partridge is a DJ for a local radio station that’s being taken over by a big corporation. Some cut-backs will be made and people are bound to lose their jobs. Alan discovers that the choice is between him or his long-time co-worker/best friend Pat Farrell, so he throws Pat under the bus to keep his own job. As the future is looking bright for Alan, a furious Pat storms the station and takes hostages. Alan is recruited by the police to enter the siege and talk some reason into Pat. Of course, Pat is unaware of Alan’s role in his lost job and this ramps up the tension for Alan tenfold, but his fame-seeking nature may get the best of him and have him manipulating the media circus to boost his career.
The plot for ALAN PARTRIDGE is a flimsy one and serves as an excuse to throw non-stop barrage of jokes at the viewer in hopes of getting them to laugh so hard that they cry. It’s highly successful in this view, which is what really counts in a goofy comedy like this one! With five credited screenwriters, a viewer might go into this film expecting a complete mess because a whole bunch of screenwriters is usually a bad sign of too many cooks in the kitchen. That is absolutely not the case. Plenty of varying types of humor are all addressed in different ways throughout the film and every single one of them are hilarious in a specific sort of way. It’s a rare case of people throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks and it all winds up sticking. Steve Coogan has long been revered by many as a comedic genius and I could somewhat see the appeal (e.g. HAMLET 2), but I never fully got why people loved watching him. This is the film that has won me over on the Coogan bandwagon. He’s absolutely brilliant as Alan Partridge (though he’s had plenty of practice over the years) and his straight-faced delivery makes everything so much funnier.
If there are any minor complaints to be noted, the only one is that the film has some opportunities for a few heartfelt emotional scenes. It manages to get close to that territory, which might have made the film into a perfect comedy in the same vein as THE WORLD’S END, but it never fully goes into this. It’s true that Alan Partridge is a jerk from the beginning and remains a jerk to the end, but there were some moments that felt a tad squandered in this respect. Otherwise, the film is successful at being a laugh riot. Be it one-liners, references, over-the-top daydreams, or running jokes that get funnier every time they’re reincorporated into the film, I laughed through the entire movie!
Laughter is the best medicine as they say and ALAN PARTRIDGE packs enough well-thought-out humor to make anyone grin from ear to ear. It’s absolutely hysterical, cleverly written, and I still have certain moments running through my head that are putting a smile on my face just thinking about them. Coogan is a joy to watch! ALAN PARTRIDGE is one to gather a bunch of friends (who don’t mind some off-color language) around the TV screen (or movie theater, if you’re fortunate enough to have this in your town) to laugh for 90 minutes. One of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in a very long time!