Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa review: tamed bear
Steve Coogan is still, hilariously, the same old awful, insecure jerk, but the media satire that has always revolved around the Alan Partridge character is somewhat diminished.
I’m “biast” (pro):
I believe Steve Coogan to be a comedic genius
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
There’s something just a little bit… off about this latest installment in the exploits of fame-mongerer and tiny, soulless excuse for a man Alan Partridge, for whom the media spotlight is like the warmth of the sun, or the tender loving embrace of one’s mother. There was a relentless philosophical bleakness to the TV series I’m Alan Partridge, in which the “radio personality” tried to claw his way back from utter obscurity to the slightly less utter obscurity of a small-market radio show on which to espouse his small-minded bigotries and banal insecurities for your drive-time listening pleasure. But Alpha Papa is almost chipper, and not because Alan (Steve Coogan [The Look of Love], also one of the screenwriters) actually does get to enjoy basking in the glow of national media attention when a fellow DJ (Colm Meaney: The Cold Light of Day) at his Norfolk station takes hostages in an armed standoff after he’s laid off by the new corporate overlords, and Alan becomes the unwitting go-between with police and the TV news people who gather. (For those not familiar with the U.K., Norfolk is a rural region that might be somewhat analogous to, say, Kansas or Iowa. It’s a pretty place… but it ain’t the media capital of anywhere, and it’s rather conservative. So, in fact, Alan fits in rather well.) Alan himself is the target of most of the satire here, and it’s not that he doesn’t richly deserve it: he is a horrible person, unthinkingly cruel to everyone around him, and every humiliation he suffers here is earned, including the ones he doesn’t even realize are humiliations. (He’s that self-centered, and sees all attention as positive.) No, it’s that Alpha Papa becomes a sort of last stand against corporate media taking over and watering down local radio, and there’s nowhere near enough smacking down of that far more worthy target. Alan is easy pickin’s, but that was always true about him because he was on the wrong side of everything that’s wrong with media today. Here he actually flirts with doing the right thing, which isn’t him at all.