Steve Coogan has given us a number of amazing performances from “Tristram Shandy” to “Philomena,” but one of his most famous characters has remained Alan Partridge, a presenter he has played on numerous radio and television shows for over 20 years. At long last, the character has been given the big screen treatment in the aptly-titled “Alan Partridge,” or for those of you across the pond, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.” As the film begins, we discover that the titular radio DJ’s station is being taken over by a conglomerate, leading to a little restructuring. In an act of self-preservation, Alan (Coogan) recommends that the night DJ, Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney), be let go, a recommendation that they follow through on. However, Pat doesn’t take it so well, causing him to storm into an office party with a gun and take hostages, with a main condition being that he’ll only negotiate with Alan. Reluctantly, Alan goes in to talk with him, leading to a long and bizarre encounter that not only has him trying to rescue the hostages, but also attempting a leap forward in his career.
Having never seen any of Coogan’s previous work with the character, this was basically my introduction to him. After sitting through the film, my main reaction is that I certainly hope the material prior to this was better, especially given that this has been perhaps the longest-enduring character of his career, because based on the film alone, there doesn’t seem to be any reason as to why he would be particularly popular. As a comic character, “Alan Partridge” is filled with many attempts at humor, but unfortunately only one or two of the jokes muster even the smallest giggle. However, that’s not even the film’s biggest issue. That would be that the screenwriters (all five of them) have put together a premise that allows for all kinds of things to happen, and then fail to take advantage of it. This gives the feeling of a film that has a setup, then just kind of keeps going with no destination in particular.
Ultimately, it’s this meandering nature of the film, coupled with the lack of good humor, which brings it down. That’s not even to mention the flat ending that the film finally arrives at 90 minutes later. How is it that five writers, including Coogan himself, couldn’t give this film any direction or a satisfying ending? Perhaps it’s simply a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, but if that were the case, you would think that there would be too much going on rather than not enough. Whatever the reasons were for its troubles, “Alan Partridge” fails to satisfy as a comedy or a thriller, merely leaving one with the hope that Coogan will bounce back with whatever he should pursue next.
“Alan Partridge” is presented in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of flawless quality. There’s not one noticeable instance of blurriness or any other issues to be found, resulting in a picture that always looks crisp and clear. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is a bit soft, but after a slight adjustment, the track sounds top-notch, presenting all sound elements in a crystal clear manner. Overall, both areas give you a great experience that could hardly be improved upon.
Making of Alan Partridge: A 12-minute featurette that features interviews with cast and crew in which they discuss the making of the film. It’s a rather superficial look behind the scenes with only one or two informative bits of info, so it’s not really worth the time to sit through.
Behind the Scenes: Less than two minutes of random behind the scenes footage of the film being shot. There’s not much to see here, so it’s easily skippable.
Alan Partridge may be one of Steve Coogan’s enduring characters, but if this film is any indication, then perhaps it’s a character better left to the radio and television mediums. As a film, “Alan Partridge” is too aimless and low on laughs to be worth the 90 minutes. It has a good start, but then this pack of writers becomes clueless as to where to go from there, leaving us with a film that is ultimately a big disappointment.
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