Thank you, Mark Frost.
Mark Frost, the co-creator of Twin Peaks, introduced me to the world of Steve Coogan’s Alan Patrtridge character a little more than three years ago. I had seen some clips before that conversation, but when Mark gave the show his enthusiastic recommendation I knew I had to investigate it further. If Mark liked it, I’m sure I’d like it too.
And boy, did, I. The wonderfully buffoonish character has appeared in radio and multiple series for the BBC, and has evolved from a daft sportscaster to a complex and well-rounded personality. Alan Partridge is like a combination of David Brent, Inspector Clouseau, and Rush Limbaugh, but is still a unique original character.
I finally got around to watching the character’s feature film debut, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, and once again… thanks, Mark. It’s hilarious.
Coogan is utterly fearless in the film, doing jokes and physical comedy that many performers would shy away from. Not Coogan. He goes for it with gusto, and sells every moment. The only actor I can think of who approaches such work with similar relish was the late Peter Sellers – which is the highest praise I can give.
If you have never seen any of the “legacy” Alan Partridge series, fear not – you can watch this movie with no context and still enjoy it. If you have seen the previous work, the film delivers some great call-backs to earlier stories and pays off a couple of long-running jokes.
I won’t delve into the plot, because this is another one of those movies that works better when you come to it fresh… though as a former radio DJ myself I have a real appreciation about how they weaved in the “corporatization” of radio as a core subplot.
(As a Star Trek fan, it’s great to see Colm Meaney – Chief O’Brien – play such a prominent role. He’s great in the film, a fine “partner” to Coogan’s Partridge.)
Humor is very subjective, but I dare say that there’s so much that is funny in Alan Partridge: Alpha Baba that if you can’t find something to laugh at, you are dead inside.
(Here’s the trailer, which, unfortunately, gives away bait too much of the plot. Watch it if you want some of the movie spoiled…)