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Review: ‘Alan Partridge’

British Comedian Steve Coogan As A Man We Love To Hate… And Laugh At

Above: Steve Coogan reprises his BBC TV role for the feature film, "Alan Partridge."

Aired 4/11/14 on KPBS News.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "Alan Partridge."

Transcript

British comedian Steve Coogan was just nominated for a writing Oscar for last year’s "Philomena." But he’s more in his element in the comedy "Alan Partridge" (opening April 11 at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas) where he reprises a role he created in the early 1990s for BBC TV.

Alan Partridge is a narcissistic and socially inept British DJ with no moral compass and zero sensitivity.

Take this advice he gives an underling at the station: "Never criticize Muslims, only Christians... and Jews a little bit."

Companion Viewing

"A Cock And Bull Story" (2006)

"The Trip" (2010)

"Four Lions" (2010)

When the radio station he's at is taken over by a multi-national corporation, he throws his fellow DJ Pat (Colm Meaney) under the wheels of change in order to save his own skin. But when Pat returns to the station with a shot gun and takes the employees hostage, Partridge comes to relish his role as intermediary in the media circus that develops outside the station.

The crowd chants "We love you Alan!"

And he replies cheerily while the hostages inside are held at gunpoint, "Would you mind it’s not a radio roadshow I’m trying to host a siege here."

When asked what it's like inside, he explains it is "scary, stressful, lots of shouting, a bit like being married again." Then he basks in the crowd's laughter.

He’s in his element and thrilled that video of him is getting more views on YouTube than "fat woman falls down hole." Needless to say he milks it for all it’s worth telling his listeners, "And what I believe is a world first, I, Alan Partridge, a hostage, broadcasting live from a siege at gun point."

Comedian Steve Coogan amazes us with his ability to create a character that is wholly unsympathetic yet absolutely fascinating and hilarious. Coogan's Partridge is an odd mix. He's obsessed with fame and status yet he's so blithely self-absorbed that he frequently acts in the most ridiculous manner. Plus he can always be counted on to try and manipulate any situation to his advantage, even if it means changing sides and course in the blink of an eye.

The film Alan Partridge recalls the British farce "Four Lions." Although tonally different, both films deliver deliciously uncomfortable humor in which we catch ourselves laughing at things we shouldn’t – like terrorism and a hostage crisis. But the writing, acting, and directing in both is so deft and unflinching that we surrender to their perverse comic genius.

"Alan Partridge" is rated R for language, brief violence and nudity.

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