Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge character - a shockingly self-important, small-fry media personality - has been a comedy institution in the United Kingdom for decades, the focus of many a TV and radio series and special.
His eponymous feature debut here is very British and very funny. But after making a crackling good impression, Alan Partridge overstays its welcome to a harrowing extent.
In a slender plot, Alan's sleepy radio station in Norwich has been bought by a conglomerate. Terrified of losing his job, Alan throws fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) onto the new owner's compost heap.
There follows a long, long, long armed siege at the studio, during which Pat will communicate with the police only through Alan. That means the pompous Partridge gets his most cherished wish - face time on national TV - which also brings out the very worst in him.
Coogan has played this blowhard for 20 years and his performance is totally inhabited. Even something simple - such as watching him lip-synch in his car to Roachford's 1989 funk-rock hit "Cuddly Toy (Feel For Me)" - pays off richly. The other characters, such as his abused assistant Lynn (Felicity Montagu), seem rather one-dimensional in comparison.
The humor, magnetized toward awkwardness and eccentricity, is decidedly English. Anglophiles may want to queue up for Alan Partridge right away. The rest of you can easily wait until it comes to Netflix.
Alan Partridge ** 1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed by Declan Lowney, with Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Felicity Montagu, Tim Key. Distributed by Magnolia Pictures.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 mins.
Parent's guide: R (profanity, violence, nudity).
Showing at: Ritz at the Bourse.EndText