Alan Partridge Declan Lowney

Alan Partridge Declan Lowney
After nearly 20 years, Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge character is finally coming to North America. In that time, Partridge has been part of numerous British television series and specials, radio programs and most other media. Remember the universal adoration that Will Ferrell's character received leading up to the release of Ron Burgundy 2: The Legend Continues? (Before the disappointment?) One gets the sense that Alan Partridge has been enjoying a similar, more sustained love from British audiences since the 1990s.

The new film, Alan Partridge, finds the self-absorbed character pushed into being an unlikely hero when his radio station is taken hostage by a disgruntled ex-coworker (Colm Meaney). Seeing an opportunity to boost his fame and solidify his place in the company, Partridge does his best to draw out the situation for his self-gain. Coogan also hilariously milks the premise in his own way, one moment riffing on linguistic nuances and the next accidentally ripping off his pants after climbing out a window. It's the kind of comeuppance to an arrogant character that Coogan has been doing for a long time but that North American audiences probably associate more with Ricky Gervais and The Office.

On this side of the pond, audiences know Coogan best from the recently Oscar-nominated Philomena. Prior to that success, his fans were probably divided into the ones who knew him from his collaborations with Michael Winterbottom and the ones who saw him in the Night at the Museum series. And then there are those who tracked down a copy of Alan Partridge after it was released in the UK last November.

Fans who have yet to see Alan Partridge will find lots to love. Taken as a sort of overdue introduction to the character for North American audiences, however, it may fall short. The film plays more like Hot Fuzz than Die Hard, often too clever for its own good. Coogan seems poised to be a household name, but Partridge could remain just an incredibly popular cult character.

(Video Service Corp.)