Don't be put off by my title: there is nothing sinister here chaps!! Indeed, with my general 'bloggings' I shall attempt to delight and astound you out of the mundaneness of a middle class suburban life, into the magical world of the Sophster!! Mystical...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sophie's Film Choice #8: ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA

Early evening in Watford? The smallest (and emptiest) screen in the cinema? Late for the film due to insisting on a  Ben and Jerry's milkshake? A conspicuous entrance as the only under 40 year- olds in the room? Having to fumble up the stairs in the pitch black, drawing further attention to ourselves?

AH- HA!! It could only be the beginning of our time with Alan!

This needs no caption. 
After a string of wildly inappropriate trailers (including two films starring Mark Wahlberg, and a sickeningly cliched Richard Curtis film) we were ready to reacquaint ourselves with our... Norwichian (?) hero. And he delivered. That is metaphorically; he did not deliver anything to us. We were just watching him on a screen.  

Interestingly, the film is set when Alan is at a relatively high point in popularity and in his career; he presents a lunchtime show for 'North Norfolk Digital', and he actually lives in a house- not even a caravan or a hotel room! However, we soon understand that Alan is on thin ice; when a media conglomerate try to take over the radio station, he must use all his power of  brown- nosing, back- peddling and desperately confused logic to keep afloat. Enter the real Alan Partridge- hopeless, smarmy and downright cringe-worthy. But somehow likeable. 

Cleverly, Steve Coogan and Peter Baynham keep to the claustrophobic and bleak portrayal of inner Norwich that characterises Alan's gloriously uneventful lifestyle, most of the action taking place within a few streets of the radio station. Too many directors try to recreate intimate comedy on a large, sometimes international scale when converting to film, but this just wouldn't have sat right with Partridge. Why would he need to travel? He's only famous in Norwich. Well, quite well- known at least. His listeners must be in at least double figures.

Alan has become the Dark Lord. Just another day for Lynn (sigh)
The film also sees the return of some familiar faces; Alan's fiercely loyal PA, Lynn, proves as adorably tragic as ever, shocked and flattered to be offered a cup of tea, and completely submissive when told her hair cut looks like it is 'mid- explosion.' Alan's Geordie friend Michael returns (inside a cupboard), as does his long- time radio rival, Dave Clifton (now a recovering alcoholic, giving Alan full ammunition to 'have the last laugh.') Along with Monica Dolan's performance as Angela, automatically admirable as she convinces us she actually fancies Alan, as well as Colm Meaney's portrayal of Pat Farrell, the former folk loving radio DJ turned psychotic... folk loving ex- radio DJ, the film achieves new levels of hilarity. 

The beauty of the plot lies in the fact that Alan can remain pathetically incompetent and inappropriate as he doesn't lead any of the action. Instead, things happen to him. Like involuntarily negotiating a siege, having to carry a fire arm, and 'laying down some bass' to record a new, 'hostage style' radio jingle. Controlled by fear of Pat Farrell, as well as guilt for elaborately convincing the station to fire him ('JUST SACK PAT'), it is down to Alan to calm down the situation; of course, he exacerbates it, failing in all his given tasks, whilst actually managing to  undermine the police's attempts to rescue Pat's hostages themselves. The film can be compared to watching a car crash in slow motion. Repeatedly.

'I think I've got a handle on it'

If you think you will enjoy/ endure watching Coogan's chronically awkward alter- ego skulk around corridors thinking he is Tom Cruise, try to 'gee- up' the crowd whilst tied to what can only be described as a 'man lead', and fall slowly out of a window, losing both his trousers and his pants, then this is the film for you. If not, then... Smell my cheese, you mother! (Back of the net!)  

No comments:

Post a Comment