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Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (AF)


Stars: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Felicity Montagu, Monica Dolan, Tim Key, Simon Greenall, Karl Theobald, Nigel Lindsay, Phil Cornwell, Dustin Demri-Burns, Anna Maxwell Martin, Darren Boyd, Sean Pertwee

Director: Declan Lowney

Steve Coogan would have to be an acting genius to give a worse performance than the one he laid out like a corpse playing the late strip club king Paul Raymond in Michael Winterbottom’s execrable biopic The Look of Love.

Fortunately, Coogan is no acting genius. Here, playing the character of the one-of-a-kind broadcaster he created on radio and then brought to its comic peak on television, Coogan is as near perfect as the hapless, hopeless Norfolk radio show host as makes no difference. Hopefully he will stick to Partridge in the future. Cinemagoers would applaud such a splendid decision.

Here, with Felicity Montagu as his seriously strange PA, Coogan is a dire (but doesn’t realise it) DJ broadcasting the morning show with colleague Tim Key. But the station has been taken over by Gpordale Media, rebranded Shape (“the way you want it to be”) and Partridge faces dismissal. So, without a qualm, he faces the suits at a board meeting and persuades them to fire his DJ colleague Colm Meaney.

Bad move. Meaney loses it, and turns up at the Shape launch party with a shotgun and takes hostages in the radio station, leaving the police to send in Coogan (“Any last messages for your kids?” asks a policeman. “They don’t speak to me”, he replies) to save the day…

Coogan works hard not to allow Meaney, who is very funny indeed, not to steal the film from him, resorting to anything he (and the writers) can think of to make an impact, including curbing the hair in his nostrils on camera with an electric device and generally behaving badly.

There are plenty of enjoyable (if not essentially memorable gags) put over with enthusiasm by all concerned and director Declan Lowney efficiently makes the most of his material, making Partridge fly onto the big screen with unexpected comic impact.

(For the record) British moviegoers have already paid twice for Partridge since the BBC licence fee was employed to bring the character to life on radio and TV. Now BBC Films join in the act. It’s a pleasure to be able to record that, for once, our money has been well spent).

Alan Frank

UK 2013. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour.
89 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 06 Aug 2013