After two decades of radio, TV and internet appearances, Steve Coogan’s cringe-inducing comic creation Alan Partridge makes the leap to the big screen. And despite the whiff of failure that invariably accompanies his endeavours, he doesn’t fall flat on his face. Oh, and the film is a modest triumph, too.
In scaling the character up for the cinema, Coogan and his collaborators (including Partridge co-creators Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham) have resisted the temptation to place Alan on too big a stage (the notion of putting him in a face-off with jihadi terrorists, mooted at one point in the film’s protracted development, was wisely dropped).
Here, the hopeless, hapless, tragically naff broadcaster is in his element as a minor provincial celebrity occupying the mid-morning slot on North Norfolk Digital radio. But the station is in the throes of a takeover by a heartless media conglomerate and has just been re-branded as Shape (slogan: ‘The way you want it to be’).
When sacked late-night DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) returns on the night of the launch party and takes a dozen staff hostage at shotgun-point, Alan is the person he chooses to act as his mediator with the police.
As the siege unfolds, Coogan and co mostly strike the right balance of plot and character, with Alan’s inept efforts to turn the situation to his own advantage producing moments of exquisite toe-curling comedy.
An occasional farcical episode – Alan losing his trousers while wriggling through a window, for example – hits the wrong note, but the film’s climax, a cack-handed standoff on Cromer pier following a crawling, processional car chase in the Radio Norwich roadshow van, is Alan Partridge to a T.
In cinemas from Wednesday 7th August.
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