Alan Partridge

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
Alan Partridge Movie Poster Image
Brit TV antihero hostage comedy has violence and language.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Few -- if any -- positive messages. Bad and immoral behavior are the premise for much of the comedy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

On TV and radio, the character of Alan Partridge has always been unsympathetic, and that continues here, with Alan doing the wrong thing at most points through cowardice and selfishness. His inflated ego and ability to avoid doing the decent thing in any situation is played for laughs. From the disgruntled DJ who takes the station's staff hostage to the corporate bosses taking over the station, there are few positive role models.

Violence

Most of the movie is a hostage situation, with a man with a shotgun keeping radio station staff captive. Multiple acts of violence. Gunshot fired through window. Character slaps another's face with a glove. Someone is hit with a fire extinguisher, gets bloody nose. A character is tackled by police, has a gun held to their face. Hostages are bound with tape, have shotguns held to their heads, are threatened with violence. Character is shot with stun gun. Character puts a shotgun into their mouth in a suicide attempt. Character shot in leg and chest. During daydream sequence, police officer and character get shot. Gunshot wounds are bloody but not gory. 

Sex

Reflection of bare breasts and buttocks in glasses from a laptop. Mention of sex workers. A couple discuss a night they spent together. A character loses their trousers, is shown naked from waist down: bare bottom shown in rear shot, genitals tucked between legs in front shot.

Language

Frequent profanity includes "sod," "whores," "jizz" (British slang for semen), "s--t," "bulls--t," "sluts," "balls," "arse," "bastard," "c--k," "t-ts," and variants of "f--k." Use of racist slur "chinky."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Character mentions cocaine and heroin use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alan Partridge -- also known as Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa -- is the first movie outing for Steve Coogan's beloved but flawed British TV character. Set in the midst of a hostage scenario, Alan remains the same: selfish, egotistical, and cowardly. The humor is mined from this well of negativity, so it might not suit all tastes. Due to the hostage situation, violence is both threatened and seen. Characters are shot, and although wounds aren't gory, they are bloody. There is some nudity, most noticeably when Alan's trousers get caught on a window, causing him to become naked from the waist down. In order to maintain his "dignity," he tucks his genitals between his legs; his bare bottom is seen. Bad language is frequent, including use of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," and "t-ts." The racial slur "chinky" is also used. Despite these adult themes, the movie is purely played for laughs, though the content perhaps makes it unsuitable for some younger Partridge fans.

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What's the story?

In ALAN PARTRIDGE, the titular radio DJ's regional station is taken over by a new media group set to make changes to its output. Alan (Steve Coogan) learns he might be sacked, so he secretly convinces the board to instead fire his colleague Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney). Unfortunately, Pat doesn't take the news well and holds the station hostage with a shotgun.

Is it any good?

This movie makes the character's transition from TV to the big screen successful by upping the stakes. Many lives are in danger throughout the siege, but the inclusion of mundane details of everyday British life provide a great comedic counter to the action. Alan Partridge -- also known as Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa --  owes a debt to the work of Edgar Wright, who masterfully mixed suburban life with a zombie apocalypse in 2004's Shaun of the Dead and threw an explosive Hollywood-size action movie plot into a rural village in 2007's Hot Fuzz. Like those movies, Alan Partridge balances real thrills with the distinctive thread of British humor that laughs at the pettiness of ego and other negative traits. 

The movie is consistently funny throughout, thanks largely to original series writers Coogan, Armando Iannucci (Veep), and Peter Baynham contributing to the screenplay, along with brothers Neil and Rob Gibbons. Partridge fans must have held their breath when it was announced he would be making the leap to the big screen -- a jump so many before have failed to land. Those fans needn't have worried. Alan Partridge serves as the perfect bookmark for those wanting to spend an extended time with one of Britain's most beloved comedy characters -- no matter how insufferable he is. What's more, while fans of the TV series will love it, viewers with nothing more than an interest in comedy movies will still have a great time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Alan Partridge. How does the fact that the film is a comedy affect the impact of the violent scenes? 

  • Discuss the strong language used. Does it seem necessary, or excessive? What does it contribute to the movie?

  • Alan Partridge has many faults but is much beloved by fans. Why is it sometimes funny to laugh at characters who do and say the wrong things in certain situations?

  • Aging DJs Alan and Pat are being phased out by the new owners to fit their corporate vision. Similar things are happening across many industries in real life. Is it right for progress, or should older staff members be better treated?

  • What alternative ways could Pat have aired his concerns rather than taking the staff hostage?

Movie details

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