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Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Alan Partridge  (2014)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: June 10, 2014) – A character whom Steve Coogan (2012's "Ruby Sparks") originated in 1991 on BBC radio program "On the Hour" gets his own self-titled film in the likably goofball "Alan Partridge." The film, directed by Declan Lowney, doesn't hit every target or land every joke, but Coogan's enthusiasm for the role—and the project as a whole—proves infectious. For the uninitiated, Alan Partridge is an egocentric disc jockey/talk show host who makes up for his rampant scatterbrained impulsivity with a whole lot of spunk and good luck. When radio station North Norfolk Digital is taken over by new management and rebranded as Shape, Alan finds his job suddenly threatened. In a desperate attempt to save his own butt, he throws his friend and colleague, late-night radio host Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney), under the bus. Pat does not take getting laid off easily, however, showing up with a gun during the company party and taking a handful of hostages. Alan narrowly gets away, but agrees to reenter the fray as a negotiator when Scotland Yard commander Janet Whitehead (Anna Maxwell Martin) seeks his help.

"Alan Partridge" doesn't necessarily add up to much in the final stretch, but the film's breezy tone and pertly acerbic humor keep things moving at an energetic pace. Steve Coogan is a delight as the big-headed, frequently clueless Alan, whose daydreams and impromptu naps keep hindering his ability to save the day. He is supported by a number of game supporting turns from Colm Meaney (2011's "The Conspirator") as the good-natured, fed-up Pat Farrell; Felicity Montagu (2008's "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People") as Alan's long-suffering, makeover-ready personal assistant Lynn Benfield, and Monica Dolan (2013's "Kick-Ass 2") as Alan's flirtatious co-worker Angela Ashbourne. One has to wonder why there had to be five screenwriters (Rob Gibbons & Neil Gibbons, Peter Baynham, Armando Iannucci and Steve Coogan), but what they have come up with is fast and sometimes pleasingly sneaky, a 90-minute mix of the low-brow and satirical. An attempt to explore Alan Partridge on a deeper level is pushed aside for a series of comic set-ups and payoffs, the jokes coming quickly enough for it to not make much difference that only some of them achieve the desired titter.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound
 A-/A-

Shot by director of photography Ben Smithard (2011's "My Week with Marilyn") with the Red Epic digital film camera, "Alan Partridge" looks the part of its 1080p treatment. It's speckle-free, full of sharp detail, has a solid color scheme, and generally lives up to its high-def roots. The occasional shot appears slightly more faded than the rest, though this could be—and probably is—inherent in the way it was filmed rather than an issue with the transfer. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio prominently services dialogue (and does so very well), but the soundtrack is also robust and evenly mixed, and moments of physical scuffles and gunfire find their way effectively into the back channels.

Blu-ray Features
Featurettes: Making of "Alan Partridge" (12:05, HD), Behind the Scenes (1:42, HD), AXS TV: A Look at "Alan Partridge" (2:56, HD)

Bottom Line
"Alan Partridge" got a limited theatrical birth in the U.S., but should hopefully find a bigger audience on home video. If you've never heard of Alan Partridge as a character before, that is okay; the film is a standalone piece and a fitting introduction to the man, the myth, the legend (in his own mind). Magnolia Picture's Blu-ray release earns a recommendation, but fans of Steve Coogan's work in particular should feel confident in an instant purchase, sight unseen.

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© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman