Film Review – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

When North Norfolk Digital radio station is taken over, DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) is made redundant in an attempt to reach out to a younger audience. However, Pat doesn’t take kindly to the news and holds a number of people hostage inside the radio station. Fellow DJ, a Mr Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan), is tasked with bringing the situation to a peaceful conclusion.

Alan Partridge fans (of which I am one) have been waiting for this film for a long time. Writers Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci have been talking about an Alan Partridge film for years but only now has it finally materialised, and any fans worried about Norfolk’s finest making the transition to the big screen, leave all your concerns at the door – it’s ruddy bloody brilliant.

Several Partridge familiars are present, including Sidekick Simon (Tim Key), Geordie jack of all trades Michael (Simon Greenall), and of course his long-suffering assistant Lynn (Felicity Montagu), all of whom do their bit and fit in perfectly to Alan’s self-centered world. However, make no mistake, this is Alan’s film and Steve Coogan’s portrayal of Partridge is as glorious as always. Puffed up and cocky one moment, seemingly on the verge of a mental breakdown the next, Coogan has become synonymous with Partridge, and managing to successfully evolve the character over two decades is quite the feat.

Of course, as important as the characterisation is the writing and Coogan and Iannucci have delivered a script that is full to the brim with quotable lines and memorable moments. Alan asking his radio listeners ‘which is the worst monger?’ (fish, iron, rumour or war?) is just one example of the very specific brand of Partridge humour that is littered throughout the film and that has transferred superbly to the big screen.

Which brings me onto my gripes with the film, of which there are only a couple. See, Alan is at his best when he’s at his most mundane, when he has little going for him. In Alpha Papa he is at his most confident and buoyant, and that simply isn’t quite as funny. Similarly, in shifting from TV to film the situations he finds himself in are much more extreme than we’re used to seeing. Sure, it’s funny to see him with his pants around his ankles ‘tucking himself’ between his legs to avoid photographers, but it’s the smaller moments that have come to define the character – the walking along the motorway singing the theme tune to Goldfinger on his way to purchase 12 bottles of windscreen washer fluid from a petrol station, or simply explaining how inertia-reel seatbelts work. 

Naturally, Alpha Papa is a film that is only really going to appeal to a pretty niche audience, one largely based in the UK. Those who aren’t a fan of Alan Partridge will find absolutely nothing here to make them change their mind, but for avid Partridgites it’s a near perfect big screen debut full of moments to make you cringe and full-on belly laugh in equal measure. Lovely stuff.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons


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29 thoughts on “Film Review – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

  1. claratsi says:

    glad it’s transferred to the big screen well, gonna go and see it this week me thinks. Been watching I’m Alan Partridge too, some golden comedy and a bit of the day today too. classic.

  2. Ewan M says:

    Good stuff. Having only seen AP on the Day Today years ago, I was worried whether I’d enjoy the film, but as you say, it’s great fun. It’s not so much that the film changed my mind, as I didn’t really have an opinion of Partridge, but there were plenty of laughs, and I think it’s pretty easy to get into even if you have no background with the character.

    • It really is great fun and really does the character justice in my opinion. I think you can go into this with little to no background with Partridge but it definitely helps I reckon. It just makes you appreciate it that little bit more. I recommend going back and watching some of his other stuff now, it’s all brilliant!

  3. theipc says:

    I’ve seen some of you UK guys going on about this for a while now and never had any idea what you’re talking about. This doesn’t sound great to me…

  4. ruth says:

    Hi Chris! Not familiar w/ Alan Partridge but Coogan is quite hilarious so I might rent this one. I hope I get all the jokes though, but usually I like British humor 😀

    • I think this would definitely count as British humour so you may well have fun with this. There’s loads of Alan Partridge on YouTube so I recommend have a little look at some stuff on there. Some people love it and some people can’t stand it 🙂

  5. Nick Powell says:

    You and a few other Brits are convincing me to track these films down! Way to give me more movies I need to watch but probably won’t see for awhile.

  6. Great review of an absolutely cracking movie; was very pleased this is as good as it is.

  7. mikeyb185 says:

    Great review. Spot on about how Alan is best in mundane situations. Things like a wearing a castrol gtx jacket to a funeral or his classic video for Hamiltons water breaks! But despite that Alpha Papa is fantastic. I’ve just read that it’s number 1 in the UK box office!

  8. Tyson Carter says:

    Cant wait to see it. Missed it round my way, but will be buying the blu ray for sure. Love me some Partridge 🙂

  9. table9mutant says:

    Good review. 🙂 Doubt I’ll ever watch it, though, as Alan Partridge still doesn’t mean anything to this American who’s been in the UK 10ish years now…

  10. Dan says:

    As a long-time Partridge fan I’m really looking forward to seeing this. It sounds like they have almost perfectly moved the character on to a bigger stage while retaining all the things that make him unique and funny. Great to see the regulars returning (especially Michael and Lynn who didn’t appear in Mid Morning Matters).

  11. If you’re a big Partridge fan then I think you’ll be pleased, there’s loads to like. It’s a lot bigger and louder than everything before but that’s not surprising for a film version. It’s great to see returning characters and Lynn in particular has a great role to play.

  12. The Vern says:

    I have never heard of this one, but will try my best to track it down. Can I watch this without seeing any of the episodes of the show?

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