Steve Coogan is apparently so much less famous in America than he is in the United Kingdom that watching the same film, “Alan Partridge,” is bound to be a radically different experience over there than it is over here. Depending on where you are, pond-wise, you’re either seeing the big screen version of Coogan’s ubiquitous alter-ego, hapless television host Alan Partridge, a character about whom you’ve probably made up your mind long ago. Over here, though, it’s possible that you just wanted to watch a hopelessly silly comedy starring a funny British fellow that you think you’ve heard of, and maybe saw in “Night at the Museum.”
Since the 1990s, comedian Steve Coogan, along with writer Armando Iannucci (“In the Loop,” “Veep,”) have created the character Alan Partridge, a vapid, middlebrow BBC television host with a smooth semi-mullet and a shallow and self-serving personality. Only intelligent and self-aware writers could give a man such hilariously odd things to say. In this film, for example, he queries radio listeners to consider their favorite kind of “monger,” as in “fish?” “War?”
After years hosting a television talk show and an attempt at sportscasting, Alan Partridge finds himself as a radio disc jockey, and his job is on the line when his station is taken over by a new corporation. When he realizes the redundancy between himself and an Irish colleague, he wastes no time in successfully persuading the new bosses to get rid of the other guy, Pat (Colm Meaney).
With subtly and unsubtly hilarious dialogue, we expect a story of Partridge’s petty ambitions, so we’re as surprised as he is when Pat lays siege to an office party with a shotgun. Soon, Alan Partridge, whose self-preservation instincts led him out of the building while others were captured, becomes the hostage negotiator and, more importantly, a media hero. He quickly recognizes the possibilities for himself in the peril of his coworkers.
With a passing interest in helping the hostages survive, Alan attempts, in his own moronic way, to steer the situation to his advantage. Some of the best scenes are when the radio crew work along Pat on air. Soon almost everyone, with the exception of a young man wrapped in duct tape, begin to focus on their newly found audience.
This film boasts plenty of wit and satire, but it also finds Alan Partridge falling out of his pants (and underpants) onto the ground from a window, and hiding in the toilet of a traveling radio station bus. One might enjoy the dialogue, the characters or the simply ridiculous slapstick comedy. Or not. While I found giggles in this misadventure, it’s not a masterpiece I can unreservedly recommend, but there’s certainly intelligence, humor and nudity to be found.