By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Continues at the Odeon Theatre #2 – 6:45pm Feb 14
Directed by Declan Lowney
Screenplay by Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons, Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham
Not everyone on this side of the pond will know who British presenter Alan Partridge is. But after seeing the movie Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (the UK title of this film) his fame in North America will no doubt rise. Who knows, maybe he might get his own TV show in the States — heaven forbid. This fictional character is a media personality who has declined in fame over the years, and to see him claw his way back to the top is sad but funny.
His appearances are intertwined in reality and only those in the know will laugh at the follies going on. The wry humour is very sublime and audiences can chuckle along at how Partridge deals with his (still declining) fame. His ego gets in the way more often that not, and his demure can be likened to another character that fans of BBC’s Red Dwarf will no doubt recognize. Yes, he’s Arnold Rimmer. In the real world, to liken him to O.J. Simpson and Paris Hilton is appropriate. But in terms of who is more high-strung, even they pale in comparison.
English comedian Steve Coogan is brilliant in playing this narcissistic character. A lot of people will find this personality unbearable and that’s where the laughs are generated. Coogan succeeds big time in playing up the concept of a lost puppy just wanting attention. Plenty of viewers cannot help but go aw.
Maybe that is why Lynn (nicely played by Felicity Montagu), Alan’s PR rep, puts up with him. She is very much like Edie McClurg when she played Grace in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Although Partridge is no righteous dude, he is a funny bohemian that has to be admired. And, curiously enough, both Partridge and Bueller share a similar trait: they both get off rather easy despite the situations they wind up in.
And strangely, fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) considers Alan to be a close pal despite all that goes on in the film. This relationship continues even after the radio station they both work in gets bought out by a huge media conglomerate and gets downsized. Both their jobs are in jeopardy. It’s either Alan or Pat that’s getting the sack, and the choice becomes off-the-top tragic when viewers learn it’s Alan who betrays Pat.
This film is hilarious as Farrell and Partridge keep up a precarious relationship when it is only the audiences who knows the truth of who got Farrell sacked. Meaney steals the show in his easy-going portrayal of a man who simply wants to go “Die Hard” because of the blows he has received in life. Farrell lost a more than a job. He also lost his wife. The script suggests he does not have many friends, and not everyone are mates at the station. That can be rough for anyone. Viewers can instantly relate.
For an actor who is best remembered in North America in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space 9, Meaney has come a long way. His appearances in film and TV are infrequent — he tends to play more supporting roles than lead — and for fans, they can tune into to AMC’s Hell on Wheels to see what this fine actor is up to.
Director Declan Lowney does a great job at balancing time between these two actors. The screen time spent to develop both characters gives this film a great light-hearted feel. It’s a shame that audiences can not root for Farrell, because ultimately, he’s the hero that the everyman wants to see succeed, not Alan. But in a hostage situation, the outcome can go any which way. Viewers have to tune in to see how it will unfold.
4 Stars out of 5