Thursday, April 24, 2014

[Review] Alan Partridge

I'll start by saying that until now I was completely unfamiliar with Alan Partridge, a longtime British sitcom character. But he's definitely a jocular one, and I very much enjoyed this goofy feature-length of the same name.

Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) is an idiosyncratic radio show host, a cross somewhere between Ron Burgandy and Nick Frost's character from Pirate Radio. The first 25 minutes or so spend a lot of time displaying this character's buffoonery and his narcissistic personality, but then it becomes a wonder where this thing is going. However, it snaps into action when Pat (Colm Meaney), a fellow broadcaster, bursts in and takes the station hostage after getting fired. Alan manages to escape in hilarious manner, but soon after is hired by the police to become a mediator. He enters back into the building to reckon with Pat, and he does a horrible job. He ends up watching viral videos with the shotgun wielding mad man, says all the wrong things, attempts to boost his own ratings, and even forgets why he's there at one point.

Alan Partridge blatantly and satirically subverts the cliches of hostage movies, and that's where a lot of the comedy comes from. It never takes itself seriously. The film is driven by droll, witty, and random dialogue exchanges, but there are also a few great screwball-ish, laugh-out-loud moments. And just when it feels like the narrative is running thin, there's always an extra boost of humor, most likely in the form of Partridge messing up the situation even more, or missing an opportunity to resolve it (or somehow ending up with no pants).

Steve Coogan is terrific in this little comedy and it's certainly worth a watch, whether you know of the character or not. Alan Partridge never really turns out to be a hero, and that seems appropriately consistent.


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