Plot: Radio guy Alan Partridge finds himself in the middle of a siege at the radio station after a colleague is canned. As an intermediary between his friend and the police, he looks for ways to turn the situation into something that could advance his career and love life.
My friend Larry recommended this, and although I trust him completely, I'm not sure I would have watched this had I known it was actually called Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Or if I knew what a difficult time I would have spelling partridge. Coogan makes me laugh. I think the first time I saw him was in the Jarmusch Coffee and Cigarettes segment with Alfred Molina. I hesitated to watch this because I know nothing about this character who has apparently been around for 25 years in various incarnations. Radio, specials, television series. I didn't know how much I would be missing going in. Even though I'm fairly positive that I am missing some references to the character's past, I was definitely able to enjoy this anyway. And a great deal of that was Steve Coogan's performance. It's a case where the performer inhabits this character, almost wears the character like an article of clothing. That's got to have something to do with the amount of time Coogan's spent playing the character, but there's a level of comfort and confidence with this sort of buffoon of a human being that just keeps the character flowing on screen, and that's regardless of how absurd some of his words and actions might be.
I'm not sure what stories the television series (plural, apparently; and why isn't there a more obvious plural word for that? One series? Two series? "The television series" makes it seem like I'm talking about one, but I was talking about more than one. What gives, English language?) had Partridge doing. This story is ludicrous, but it's really just there as an excuse to have characters do and say funny things anyway. And maybe make a point about big corporation and the de-evolution of mass media or something. The dialogue-driven humor is quick and always smart, even when it's juvenile. As with Coogan's Hamlet 2 (a movie I really need to watch again so that I can give it a higher rating than Ice Age since Larry really seemed to have an issue with the ratings for those two), there are so many jokes that you can't expect everything to work. But the ratio of jokes-that-work to jokes-that-fall-flat is much better than most comedies.
A great performance, smart writing, and just the right amount of slapstick make this one fun even if you're brand new to this character like I was.