Alan Dee’s movie preview: from Norwich, it’s the hit of the week, it’s Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge - Alpha PapaAlan Partridge - Alpha Papa
Alan Partridge - Alpha Papa
It probably has the lowest budget of the week, but there’s no doubt which movie will be attracting comedy fans to the box office – welcome to the big screen, at long last, Mr Alan Partridge.

There is, of course, a long casualty list of comedies transferred from TV to cinema and suffering in the process. Nobody wants another Holiday On The Buses.

But Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa isn’t a rush job cashing in on fleeting popularity. Steve Coogan’s self-deluded broadcaster has been developed over two decades and a variety of TV incarnations, and his big screen debut is lovingly crafted by some of the best in the business, with Armando Iannucci – no stranger to switching from TV to movies after the successful transfer of The Thick of It as In The Loop – a key player.

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Familiar supporting characters abound in this tangled tale of hostage-taking at a Norfolk radio station.

Odd couple: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The HeatOdd couple: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat
Odd couple: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat

It may not be a classic, but it is a smart casual street ahead of most of what passes for comedy on the big screen these days.

I’m not sure whether The Lone Ranger is meant to be comedy, but one thing’s for sure – not many people are laughing.

The Pirates Of The Caribbean crew are behind this calculated attempt to build another big bucks franchise, with Johnny Depp taking on the role of Tonto to unknown Armie Hammer’s clean-cut hero.

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Plenty of money has been chucked at this and there is undoubted technical skill involved, but the characters don’t work, the story doesn’t grip and the comedy falls flat.

That explains why this misguided reworking of a 1960s TV classic has already stiffed Stateside, and is unlikely to do much better here.

On the subject of painfully unfunny comedy, do you mind if I mention Grown Ups 2?

It’s all your fault, of course, if you’d just had the sense to stay well away from Grown Ups they wouldn’t have made another, but here we go – big kids Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade find another contrived reason to get back together and revert to their lost teen years.

Arrested adolescents? They should be.

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Percy Jackson: Lightning Thief did respectable business three years back, and most people agreed that it was a decent translation of writer Rick Riordan’s fantasy adventures which mix Greek and Roman myths and the modern world.

It’s unlikely to topple Harry Potter as a family franchise, but the follow-up is Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, a perfectly decent slice of summer holiday family fare –although it’s rated PG so it’s obviously not for the littlies.