Movie Review - Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Tim Key (left) and Steve Coogan
in a scene in "Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa"
Steve Coogan stars as Alan Partridge, a character he originated back in 1994. Several TV series have been done over the past two decades in the UK that have followed the career of Alan Partridge. A couple of years ago, Coogan took a character he did on British television and made a film out of it. That film was The Trip (2011). That film was such a success that it made sense for him to do it again, but this time with his longest-running, TV character.

Alan Partridge currently works as a disc jockey and radio host of a program called Mid Morning Matters. It broadcasts from Norfolk near the eastern coast of England. The radio station where it's done is brought by new corporate owners, and Alan learns that they plan on changing things and firing certain people.

He's able to get into a board meeting and a fellow radio host named Pat Farrell, played by Colm Meaney, asks Alan to make a case for him. In the first of what becomes scene after scene of one of the funniest movies of the year, Alan tries to make Pat's case but then changes his mind. He in fact throws Pat under the bus, but he covers it up.

Then, in a twist out of Airheads (1994), Alan and Pat become involved in a hostage situation at the radio station. Alan becomes the spokesperson between the hostage-taker and the police, and he is just the worst any one could have. At first, he's reluctant, but then he sees it as an opportunity to further his career. He becomes completely self-aggrandizing.

The entire cast is great. Tim Key as Side Kick Simon is great even though he's duct-taped and almost completely immobilized for the whole movie. Felicity Montagu as Lynn Benfield is great as Alan's assistant who's slightly dim-witted and revealed to have a secret love of glamour. There's even a great small role by Darren Boyd who plays Martin Finch, a cop who looks like Britain's version of Garret Dillahunt.

Written by Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons, Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham and Steve Coogan, there are wall-to-wall great gags. The two escape sequences are hilarious. From crashing through a wall to getting stuck in a window, I was literally laughing out loud from beginning to end.

There have been a lot of films to do dick jokes that are dumb and mostly just about showing the penis and expecting that to be enough. Seeing a penis in itself isn't funny unless you're ten because that alone is simply juvenile. Coogan instead does a dick joke that is different and smarter.

Jokes born on the screenplay like "banged up a broad" are great and could teach Michael Showalter and David Wain's recent They Came Together a lesson about how to use repetition to better comedic effect. Jokes like Michael, played by Simon Greenall, in hiding are performance-based, but director Declan Lowney, however, is able to use his filmmaking to keep the comedy up too. Lowney certainly maintains excellent pacing and films the final scenes with a beauty to them at which it's nice to look and laugh.

Coogan has had a great run for over a decade. I first noticed him in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) and continued noticing him in films like Happy Endings (2004), Tristram Shandy (2005), Hamlet 2 (2008), Our Idiot Brother (2011) and What Maisie Knew (2012). The latter of which was a more dramatic performance. Coogan recently received two Oscar nominations, Best Writing and Best Picture, for Philomena (2013). I think those nods were well-deserved and this movie is now another on his amazing filmography.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language, brief violence and nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 30 mins.


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