If you don’t think there’s a risk in promoting comedic characters from the television to the cinema screen, then here are three (I think) words to change your mind: Ali G Indahouse. Thankfully Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (directed by Father Ted’s Declan Lowney) neither has a lead character who has outstayed his welcome, nor is forced to spread itself too thin in order to appeal to a broad cinema audience.
Co-writer Armando Iannucci repeats what he pulled off with In The Loop, his feature adaptation of TV’s The Thick of It, by helping to pen a film that’ll appeal to fans and newcomers alike and plays to the strengths of the shows that preceded it. What that entails is keeping the film’s pitiful, egomaniacal and hilarious title character on screen for as much time as possible, something that works wonderfully because Steve Coogan, serial scene-stealer in the past, is a laugh-a-minute lead.
Partridge’s appalling attempts at human interaction and constantly self-serving actions propel the film along from start to finish. Coogan proves he knows this two-decades-old character inside and out, meaning he’s a cringe-worthy delight to watch while on screen – for practically the film’s entire running time.
As for the hostage-taking plot, it exists mostly to confine Partridge inside North Norfolk Digital, alongside his colleagues and new management as the siege plays out and provides him a platform for desperately awkward attempts to get back in the spotlight. It’s a clever move that keeps the focus on a character who would make most of us gladly prefer to be shot by a crazed gunman than spend 90 minutes with in reality.