Director: Declan Lowney
Studio: StudioCanal, BBC Films
Stars: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Tim Key
Steve Coogan’s signature title TV character—a self-enchanted, detestable, pea-brained, famed small screen star—has been a BBC favorite for 20 years but isn’t well known on our shores. In the biting and hilarious satire Alan Partridge, Coogan’s character finally makes his first feature-length debut and almost makes up for all that lost time.
It’s an office comedy, done with a wink and a nod toward Dog Day Afternoon, in which drab corporate types take over the equally drab local radio station to which Partridge has now been relegated. With firings of older employees mandated by the suits, our 60ish hero launches an underground campaign against a rival colleague (Colm Meaney), who returns to the station packing a shotgun and in full hostage-taking mode. The ever-opportunistic Partridge decides to broadcast the crisis live, sucking the entire population of Norwich into the situation and attracting national media. Partridge sees this as the chance to recapture the spotlight and return to glory.
The movie, cowritten and cocreated by Coogan with the gifted Armando Iannucci (In the Loop, Veep), is funny, spiky and gets us cringing at just the right moments. But it is a bit padded, slumps into cheap sentiment in the final stretch and continues Coogan’s sanding down of some of his mercilessly cruel character’s sharper edges. But, both for viewers who have and haven’t seen Coogan at his most corrosively Partridge-ian, the movie is a must.