Thursday 8 August 2013

Review: Alan Partridge - Alpha Papa

World of Blackout Film Review

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa Poster

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Cert: 15 / 90 mins / Dir. Declan Lowney

It seems to have become a yearly occurrence that in the UK we get a TV-to-Cinema comedy crossover movie. Sometimes they amuse, sometimes they don't; but either way, there's always been a bumpy transition between the small screens in our homes and the large ones of the cinema. 2013 heralds the turn of Norwich ambassador, Alan Partridge - can the polyester slacks and driving gloves successfully make the leap to the silver screen? More to the point, is it worth paying nearly a tenner to find out..?

Best line: "Michael, you're like a sort of Geordie Anne Frank..."

...kinda, yes. Where my biggest bugbear with this sort of thing has been "it's not a film", I can see why Alpha Papa was put into the format. The story has a wider scope than the Partridge BBC shows, and while I think it loses direction slightly in the third act, the first two benefit hugely from having the time to unfold under their own steam. The story makes great use of the existing Partridge canon*1, even if it does little to develop on it, and the return of Lynn and Michael gives Alan a couple of tried and tested foils to play off.

Best line: "Right... Ah've got nee tax, nee insurance, and ah'm not wearin' me seatbelt. What are y'ganna dee aboot it this time?"

Another great plus-point is that Alpha Papa is funny. Consistently funny. The style of humour is exactly what AP fans are accustomed to, and although it makes no concessions for newbies, it's broad enough to be enjoyed by most audiences. It almost goes without saying of course (although I'll say it anyway), that if you really don't like Partridge, this isn't for you.

Best line: "Aye, I've done a poo in the box..."

As much as I loved Alpha Papa, I have to say that it didn't really leave me with much apart from 'the memory of laughing a lot'. As the credits roll, there's the nagging feeling that nothing's really changed on any higher level, and that while the extended running time is welcome, the things which make this great are the same things that stop it being 'cinema material'. In about a year, either BBC3 or ITV2 will buy the broadcast rights to this and start playing it on rotation. In all honesty, you'll lose nothing by watching this as home. For the next three weeks at least, it's what Orange Wednesdays were invented for*2.

TL;DR version? 'Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa' is very funny, even if it does nothing new. Because of this, if you're not already a fan of Norwich's premier D-Jock, there's little for you here. On its own terms it succeeds marvellously, and those are the only terms it's playing on.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
The trailer sells it short slightly, but captures the essence.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Your choice; any will be fun, but it's a question of how desperately you want to see it.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
Yes, but probably not 'til it hits DVD.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Not that I heard.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Partridge fans: Do you rate Sky-era AP over BBC-era AP?

*1 Uber-nerd moment: I did notice a few minor inconsistencies with the BBC series and the autobiography. 1) When Lynn visits Alan at home, he's living on a housing estate - why isn't this the house he was having custom built in series 2 of I'm Alan Partridge? 2) Detailed in the book, Goredale Media are the company who buy Radio North Norfolk and drop the expense of having its FM licence (hence North Norfolk Digital); in Alpha Papa, why would they be brought in to take over their own company? I know perhaps I shouldn't be expecting GFFA levels of continuity, but everything else in Brand Partridge dovetails beautifully.
*2 The cynic in me is assuming that's why Alpha Papa opened on a Wednesday (as did The Inbetweeners). It worked, the cinema was packed; but whether those figures are sustainable remains to be seen.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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