Saturday, April 5, 2014

Alan Partridge: Movie Review

Parodying action movies with a typically British zany treatment.
Meet Alan Partridge. He’s a radio DJ and has a way with words which makes it very clear that he doesn’t have a way with words after all. He’s not a people person but he does have some understanding of what people respond to. For British comedy fans, they probably already knew this as Alan was first created in the 1990s as part of “On the Hour,” and now his creator, Steve Coogan, has brought him to the big screen. 2013

Directed by: Declan Lowney

Screenplay by: Steve Coogan, Peter Baynham, Armando Iannucci, Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons

Starring: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney

Steve Coogan in ALAN PARTRIDGE, a Magnolia Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
This was my first time meeting Alan Partridge, and I can’t say I found the character himself to be all that funny but I did love his reactions to various situations he found himself in. The radio station he works at is being taken over by a media conglomerate, and a fellow DJ, Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney), has asked Alan for his help in saving his job. To put it mildly, Alan is not very helpful. But this is exactly when the fun begins. Alan now finds himself in the middle of a crisis hostage situation and he’s going to be the go-between for Scotland Yard.

Alan is going to be the hero. He even sees himself as a combination of Jason Statham, Jason Bourne and Jason Argonaut – a movie action hero, a fictional action hero, and a confused mythical approximation of an action hero. This is where the comedy worked best in the movie. The writers knew their movie references, and Alan played it to the exact opposite of his fictional heroes. There’s a parody of action movies at play here; Alan jumps at the opportunity to save the day, runs past the police station, talks a passer-by into driving him to the nearest police station, less than a block away. At the police station, it is proven that Alan does not have the same skills and reflexes that trained professionals do. That would never happen to Jason Bourne, but this does not stop Alan.

Steve Coogan and Colm Meaney in ALAN PARTRIDGE,
a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Alan also talks a lot when he gets nervous. It’s your typical non-ending spew of nonsense, non-sequitors and outrageous statements; most of which is pretty funny. In the middle of all the action, which is of course pretty action-less, the film attempts to form some heartfelt connections for Alan — growth in his friendships and some love interests. This was poorly conceived and was mostly an unwelcome distraction from the wonderfully comedic action plot. It also came at an uneasy time. The ending was coming near and we know how it’s going to end, or at least we know what big reveal needs to occur near the end. While the reveal was predictable, how it played out was not. The end took us straight back to the comedic parody of an action movie where Alan plays the not-reluctant-at-all-but-still-pretty-useless action hero.

For British readers, who already know Alan Partridge and are already fans, I can say I enjoyed the ridiculous plot the best, so this is probably a fitting big screen treatment. For the rest of us, this is a pure zany, slapstick, typical British comedy. For fans of Steve Coogan, he’s gone for straight comedy and as far away from “Philomena” as you can get. I was disappointed that I didn’t see any of the brilliant subtleties that “Philomena” was filled with, but that's just not this movie. “Alan Patridge” was completely over-the-top, and that’s the point of such a character.

Similar Titles:

Philomena (2013) - Masterfully written, beautifully portrayed story that is better than just a human interest story.

Tamara Drewe (2010) - A comedy of affairs.

Zonad (2009) - Aliens know their way around an Irish town well.