Resplendent in a short-sleeved baby blue suit and pink tie, Steve Coogan walked in to Norwich's Hollywood cinema last night as the character - Alan Partridge - that remains his best loved comic creation. But did Alpha Papa, the Radio DJ and presenter's film debut, live up to expectations?
Yes, firmly yes, says Catherine Shoard in the Guardian:
"It's a Fabergé egg disguised as a Kinder Surprise; an intricate piece of engineering done up to look like a whoopee cushion."
Plus, the transition from TV to film is handled well, says Shoard - with Partridge reinvented as a "real hero" and the plot bent into an appropriate arc.
The Independent's Adam Sherwin found plenty to enjoy:
"There are sufficient laugh-out-loud moments to allay the nagging suspicion that Alpha Papa is merely an overgrown television episode with a bigger budget."
But Robbie Collins, writing in the Telegraph, is less impressed. Partridge's comic power resides in his weakness. Making him appear strong, as Alpha Papa does at times, melts some of this power away - says Collins.
The Hollywood Reporter offers a useful interpretation of Partridge for an audience unfamiliar with the man:
"He embodies an uncomfortably familiar kind of Middle English conservatism: outwardly worldly and confident but essentially prudish, parochial, chauvinistic, narcissistic and mildly sociopathic"
International success is possible, they believe. A lot rests on Coogan's box-office appeal "though most of the jokes feel universal enough to travel".