Release Date: April 25, 2014
Running Time: 90 minutes
Know much about the long and checkered history of Steve Coogan’s bumbling Britcom radio and TV personality Alan Partridge? If not, you’re going to be at a slight disadvantage going into Alan Partridge, the first film to feature the beloved comic creation Coogan introduced in 1991 on BBC Radio 4’s parody current affairs program On the Hour and then took to BBC Television with such series as The Day Today, Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, and I’m Alan Partridge. The mockumentary web series Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge can be found on YouTube, and it offers a good introduction to the personal and professional failings of the sexually repressed, politically incorrect representative of British media at its most arrogant, banal and complacence. Refusing to pander to the uninitiated by digging deep into the radio chat show host’s past, Alan Partridge finds the North Norfolk Digital mainstay taking advantage of a hostage situation at his radio station. DJ Pat Farrell (a hilariously crazed Colm Meaney) wants revenge after being fired by the radio station’s new owners. Unaware Partridge contributed to his firing, Farrell employs his former colleague as his go-between with the police. With the world watching his every move, Partridge sees an opportunity to regain the spotlight he’s lost in recent years, which is only to be expected of him. As the insecure idiot at the center of attention, the suitably ingratiating Coogan conspires with director Declan Lowney and co-writer Armando Iannucci to skewered a lazy media that’s willing to place a premium on fluff instead of substance in pursuit of ratings, even if it means failing its audience at a time when it needs to up its game. Partridge remains an intriguing contributor to the dumbing down of the media—he’s an intensely unlikable man, but it’s his lack of social graces, allegiance to blind ambition, and readiness to exploit that generate most of the laughs in Alan Partridge. Otherwise, the humor in Alan Partridge is decidedly down-market when compared to Coogan’s The Trip and Iannucci’s The Thick of It and Veep. For example, there’s the obligatory moment when Partridge is caught with his pants down, literally and figuratively. Part of Alan Partridge’s charm is that it is defiantly British in the targets it seeks out. This is never more evident that when it pokes fun at British pop culture of the 1980s, in particular the one-hit wonders Partridge adores. While many of the jokes may go over the heads of American audiences, it’s easily to deduce they are in service of putting in place a harmless fool who is a hero in his own mind.
Aired: April 24, 2014
Web site: http://www.magpictures.com/alanpartridge/