I won’t lie, it doesn’t look great that the first sentence in my first review includes; ‘I have little knowledge about Alan Partridge’ when I’m reviewing an Alan Partridge movie. My opinion is based solely on someone who watched the movie on Amazon; someone who enjoyed the movie on Amazon and someone who would whole heartedly recommend this movie to everyone. It is hilarious. I don’t say this lightly. With an extremely tightly written script, carving out wit here, there and everywhere from Steve Coogan’s fantastic character we get ninety minutes of pure cringeworthy comic genius.
The awkward and self loving Partridge finds himself embroiled in a hostage heist instigated by his friend and fellow radio presenter Pat (Colm Meaney). It follows the hapless Partridge as he volunteers to help the police by being the inside man on the situation to diffuse the tensions after Pat loses his job with the radio company when it is taken over by the ‘corporate whores’ who seek to rebrand it.
What works? Everything. Every character delivers such charming yet awkward comedy it’s almost impossible to place a finger on why the film is so funny. From the off the bat phrases and allusions to pop culture, to incredible level of self awareness the movie portrays. Above all, the comedy thrives on the fact that no one in Norwich seems to appreciate the deadly situation as Pat hilariously runs the radio show during his armed heist, forming a ludicrous and unbelievable bond with the clueless Partridge as his accomplice. The residents have nothing but love for Pat and continue to ring in the show, fuelling the comically wonderful extended joke of him being oblivious to the consequences of his actions. The comedy also plays to the wide audience, a very British sense of humour and stereotypical radio impressions are shoved towards the audience every second creating a feel-good understanding of the characters and showing why Partridge is so loveable (so I’m told) in the first place.
What seems astonishing is that despite this hilarity, there are moments of genuine heart and strong messages. Pat’s motivations make him an anti-villain in many ways which in itself is enough complexity to commend what could have just been a simple, cheap comedy. The modernisation and influence of youth poisoning the radio is displayed well and runs throughout the movie, generating a very nostalgic feel which I, at 19 years old did not fail to pick up on and appreciate. This is of course almost always overplayed by another ridiculous comic remark; Alpha Papa never forgets what it’s here to do, make people laugh… not have a mid life crisis.
What doesn’t work? It would seem nonsensical to suggest something doesn’t work when I’ve already said everything does. I would imagine the only complaint, only from my point of view, is that after a few watchings this movie could run itself dry. The re -watchable value appeared restricted after two viewings. Maybe that’s because of the sheer hilarity the first time round; then again, maybe it’s just me.
Steve Coogan excels in a tightly written, brilliant, hilarious and often thoughtful homage to his wonderfully constructed character. A Patridge in a pear tree.