9 December 2013

Hello Mr Seagull


In general, I'm proud to say that we Brits tend to be drawn to a darker side of life than perhaps our American cousins are. Where they celebrate respected figures from their past such as ex-presidents and equal rights campaigners, our identity is instead made up of thieves, murderers and cunts. I'm sure there have been plenty of people questing for peace at some point in our history however the names that I remember are Dick Turpin, Guy Fawkes, Robin Hood and Jack The Ripper. I guess what this shows is that just like a public school toff, Britain really does have the unquenchable taste for an arsehole.

This preference can also be seen in our comedy output in which it seems that we favour the outspoken knobheads over anything else. Again this differs to America who for some reason seem to prefer fucktards like Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin and The Bluth Family. I'm not saying that we don't like them too it's just that when we have to get creative, our collective psyche produces things that are a touch darker. Our most popular characters include such dicks as Basil Fawlty, Jim Royale, Malcolm Tucker, Victor Meldrew, David Brent and of course Alan Partridge. Although the cause of their dickishness varies with each, the common theme seems to be that all of them are more than willing to speak their mind and with little regard to how much of a twat it might make them seem. My theory for this is that as a nation we tend to be quite repressed and so hide our frustrations through sarcastic politeness and life threatening stomach ulcers. Therefore watching someone who’s clearly free of our crippling self-awareness is like a nation-wide therapy. 

Norfolk's maddest man!
Although British sitcoms have had a particularly dodgy history of translating to film, the latest of our creations to attempt the leap of faith is Alan Partridge however the movie deserves credit right away for not doing the ball-numbingly dull cliché of simply having the characters go on holiday. Everything from On the Buses to Kevin and Perry Go Large have tried that and unsurprisingly this valiant attempt at not learning from a previous mistake has usually resulted in ninety minutes of pure sun-baked shite. If they're all just lemmings mindlessly following each other over the cliff though, then Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is the first to notice the twatting chasm of death and decide to fuck it right off. Rather interestingly, it seems that this film is instead drawing inspiration from something like Dog Day Afternoon in which a botched hostage situation becomes a media clusterfuck. To summarise the plot, Alan's radio station is about to be taken over by a bland corporation that intends to make redundant any of its employees that have committed the bastard sin of being over thirty. As a result, one of the staff goes absolutely apeshit with a shotgun, takes over the radio station, ties up the management and makes Alan the middle man between him and the police. The film is kind of like a Norfolk based remake of Die Hard and about as cool as that probably sounds.

There's a simple question that will quickly assess whether or not you'll like this film- ‘do you like Alan Partridge?’ If the answer is no then I imagine that for you this will be the comedy equivalent of smearing jam up your arse and then spooning in some horny fire ants to clean it out. Luckily for me though I answered yes and so what followed was not only one of the funniest films of the year but pretty much the funniest film I can remember seeing at the cinema. I mean I probably laughed a lot more whilst watching Dunston Checks In but that was 1996, I was about seven years old and children are morons. There was a toddler at my house the other day and he laughed more at his own feet than the carefully crafted wanking jokes I was writing. The fucking idiot. Anyway for anybody who’s yet to meet Alan, he's self-obsessed, arrogant, easily agitated and so basically a prick. However, I still find him sympathetic because all of this comes from his need to be famous which in itself is due to his insecurities and desire to be loved. Plus he has an appreciation that's almost equal to mine for the Bond Franchise and in particular Roger Moore which is I think enough to excuse anybody of almost any behaviour. It's depressing how often I talk to people about that franchise and end up mentally screaming, “Stop getting Bond wrong!”

I think one of the reasons that this film works so well is because a film is exactly what it is. Other than fucking off to Spain, another problem that movies based on sitcoms have is that they tend to feel like one episode of the show but forced to last a longer running time. The genius of Alpha Papa is in recognising that an episode of a sitcom is very different to one of those weird fleshy, trunk, foreskins that some people have and so cannot simply be stretched out. The Simpsons Movie was particularly guilty of this with one of its biggest problems being that it really felt like it dragged. The other main problem of The Simpson Movie was simply that it was shit. Perhaps though a trip to the land of movies is easier for Partridge because he, as a character, is bigger than any one of the mediums he's appeared in. He's done sitcoms, chat-shows, Internet Radio Shows and has even written a book that was rather brilliantly entitled I Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan. With all that, I suppose a film seemed obvious to the point that you wonder why it's taken twenty years for them to get around to it. I need another Mr. Bean movie as much as I need a glass thermometer snapped halfway down my cock but an Alan Partridge film seems more than logical.

"There must have been quite a few angels."
If I was to criticise Alpha Papa then I guess it feels like it was probably once a much longer movie than it has finally ended up being. As a result there are certain sub-plots that seem a little un-explored as though, like a gay chap in Russia, they were simply cut or removed with sociopathic ruthlessness. An example of this might be a subplot involving a love interest for Alan that could probably have benefit from a little more development. It's not that I don't believe anybody would sleep with him- it's just that I don't believe anybody would sleep with him for free. Although you know what, fuck it! I'd rather have a leaner running time and non-stop hilarity than the indulgently long and smug comedies of someone like Judd Apatow. I remember going to see Borat and although it was funny, I'd seen all the best bits in the trailer. Thankfully this isn't the case with Alpha Papa which contains about three jokes every two and half seconds. Coogan has been playing Partridge for so long now that it must be like being possessed for him with the two consciences inhabiting the same fleshy frame. The role seems to come so naturally too that the performance becomes layered with so many ticks and nuances that I know I'm going to be noticing new things for years to come. I'm not sure what Coogan's face is made of but it must be the same mushy gloop as what Jim Carrey's malleable pink meat flapper is. 

I could be wrong but with the regularity of one liners and genius of the script Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa could well end up being the British version of Spinal Tap. I won't ruin any jokes except to say that the title of this blog was my favourite line and coupled with Coogan's performance, it just cracked me the fuck up. I'd been laughing most of the way through but this was the moment that I became particularly grateful for the strength of my internal piss-organs. Those who know about Partridge's history will know that he once sunk into a depression and became dangerously addicted to the chocolate jaw fucker that is Toblerone. Ever since then he's always seemed like he's on the verge of another melt down and as long as he is, I know I'll keep on watching. 

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