Stay Classy, Norwich: 'Alan Partridge' Aims For American Success British comic Steve Coogan's blowhard broadcaster character conquered movie screens at home — and now he's crossing the Atlantic. Critic Bob Mondello says he's got a good chance at breaking America.
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Stay Classy, Norwich: 'Alan Partridge' Aims For American Success

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Stay Classy, Norwich: 'Alan Partridge' Aims For American Success


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Stay Classy, Norwich: 'Alan Partridge' Aims For American Success

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In Britain say the name Alan Partridge and everyone knows who that is, an airheaded funny and entirely fictional broadcaster.


STEVE COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) That was a majestic voice. You can keep Jesus. As far as I'm concerned Neil Diamond will also be king of the Jews.

BLOCK: British comedian Steve Coogan has been playing Partridge on radio and TV for more than 20 years. Recently the character made a successful leap into British movie theaters. And critic Bob Mondello says that in "Alan Partridge: The Movie" he might be able to leap the Atlantic as well.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Both on the air and off, Alan Partridge is quick, he's gimmicky, he's full of himself and he's got no filter, none at all.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Cows don't have hymens.

STEVEN COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) Absolutely correct. Cows do not have hymens, just a partially open cervix. The time is 10:22.

MONDELLO: Partridge is a personality on a small-town radio station full of personalities, all of whom worry about layoffs when the station is bought by a cost-cutting conglomerate, especially late-night host Pat Farrell, who asks Partridge to stick up for him at a closed-door board meeting. Alan does, after a fashion.

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) Pat's audience is old. Old people, just like dogs, are blindly loyal. And if Pat high-tails it to Cedar FM and they follow, you've got a great exodus on your hands, a graxodus.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yeah, but we bought Cedar FM as well.

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) I did not know that.

MONDELLO: Then, glancing down at papers on the table, he realizes he and Pat are the only two names being considered for layoffs and his tune changes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: The point is, you're talking about Pat Farrell.

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) Thanks. Pat Farrell is a great guy. He's always the first to speak up at union meetings.

MONDELLO: When Alan's comments get Pat sacked, Pat grabs a shotgun and takes the whole staff hostage, still thinking Alan stuck up for him and is his only real ally, a notion Alan is happy to encourage, especially when he realizes the audience potential.

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) And I want to believe as a world first, I, Alan Partridge, a hostage broadcasting live from a siege at gunpoint. Pure class. And today well be asking, what was better in the olden days? OK, Pat, shoot. I mean, start speaking.

MONDELLO: All of this, smarm, cockiness, cowardice, pettiness, is by now, second-nature for comedian Steve Coogan, who has spent much of his career either giving life to journalists, as he did recently in "Philomena," or mocking them. The mockery is scattershot here, more sketch-comedy than situation comedy, despite a situation you'd think would dominate.

Alan Partridge is so easily distracted, though, and so self-serving, that even a siege has to be all about him, whether he's accepting undeserved compliments from his boss...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: You are the face of this siege.

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) I have siege face.

MONDELLO: Or soliciting compliments from his manager.

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) He likes me, Lynn. Jason Tresswell likes me.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What are about you, Alan? Are you OK?

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) I've got to be quick. Pat only thinks I've borrowed his phone to play Angry Birds on the toilet.

FELICITY MONTAGU: (As Lynn) Well, of course. What is it?

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) It's a computerized bird throwing game.

MONTAGU: (As Lynn) No. I meant...

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) I'm joking, Lynn. Enjoy me. Everyone else is.

MONDELLO: Among the film's more inspired moments, a police chase that moves at a snail's pace, some weirdly genital-free full-frontal nudity, and a hostage-negotiation in which Alan Partridge can't resist playing to the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What's it like in there?

COOGAN: (As Alan Partridge) Scary, stressful, lots of shouting, a bit like being married again. And there's a crazy person running around with a gun so it's a lot like being married again.

MONDELLO: Ron Burgundy, eat your heart out. I'm Bob Mondello.

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