North Americans have Will Ferrel’s Ron Burgundy, an on-camera anchorman who’s self-centred arrogance has him chewing down on his own foot often. In Europe, the Brits have Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge. Partridge is an egotistical radio personality obsessed with a celebrity image and a winning smile.
Where Burgundy can read on screen as a pompous jerk with a heart of gold steeped in spoof misogyny, Partridge is more endearing. He always finds a way to slip into the spotlight, and try to have others sympathize with him or view him as an inspirational icon. However, he’s just as easily flustered and frustrated when he isn’t included.
Steve Coogan’s amusing character takes a step away from real life airwaves and his UK Television show I’m Alan Partridge to star in his first leading vehicle self-entitled Alan Partridge. The film is better known as Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa across the pond, but it’s a title that may have had others scratching their head over its otherwise silly meaning.
That adjustment is what’s going to make Alan Partridge’s overseas success interesting to observe. I think it helps outsiders taking a chance on the film to know a little bit about Partridge before paying for a ticket. His fumbled muttering, and his self-absorbed attitude may have the general North American movie going public growing irritated. However, if they have that initial information or can quickly jive with the lead doofus, they may have themselves as good a time as us fans.
Personally, I found Alan Partridge to be a good comedy that met the goals it set out to achieve. Director Declan Lowney manages to do what most SNL flicks have difficulty doing – taking a sketch character and having him carry a film all the way until the end. It also helps that Coogan is still playing the cocky host splendidly.
Alan Partridge plays out as a movie Mike Myers would’ve jumped at the chance to star in. I wouldn’t call Lowney’s film a laugh-out-loud riot as Myers’ past comedies have been (pre-Love Guru, mind you), but there’s a consistent flow of titters and chuckles that will have you pleased with most of the material. Although, a scene featuring Alan getting caught with his trousers down will definitely shock you into hysterics.
The story of a disgruntled, newly fired radio personality taking the station and its employees hostage doesn’t feel rote, as does the decision to make Coogan the hero despite the role’s narcissism. Partridge, being the unctuous goofball he is, manages to find fame in dire circumstances. He completely understands the danger of the takeover, but is strangely complimented when he’s chosen as a messenger for the police and a co-host for a radio show during the malicious siege.
Lowney’s modest comedy will satisfy the Alan Partridge fan base as well as fans of Coogan’s dry wit. The main question, however, still stands: how the hell is this going to perform outside the UK?
I won’t be surprised if Alan Partridge doesn’t drum up new anticipation during its North American theatrical release, but I won’t be disappointed if this type of movie finds cult life on VOD.