Bits and Bobs (Vol. 8): Tropic Blunder… Why Isn't Steve Coogan a Bigger U.S. Star?
I hit up Tropic Thunder this weekend, but I didn’t go for Stiller, Black, or Downey Jr. I went to see, as my colleague Tanner calls him, the Coog. So I was miffed when (spoiler alert!) my guy barely made it through the first third of the film. Sure, you could call his blip of a role as a foolish and ultimately doomed Hollywood director a “star cameo.” And he is hilarious. Yet, it’s all a tad thankless for the bloke who co-created Britcom great Alan Partridge, don’t you think?
Which got me wondering: Why isn’t Steve Coogan (pictured) a bigger U.S. star? It happened for Ricky Gervais. It’s on the horizon for Russell Brand. Blockbuster missteps (Around the World in 80 Days) and kiddy flicks (Night at the Museum) aside, Coogan has been behind some pretty stellar bits. Mull over my faves (all are available on U.S. DVD, unless noted) below. Then, in honor of Friday’s release of the Coogan-led Hamlet 2 (he’s EXCELLENT in it), let’s discuss: Why do you think Coogan hasn’t charmed the states? And what other Brit actors do you feel have wrongfully suffered the same fate? Let us know!
1. Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge. A faux BBC chat show hosted by clueless former sportscaster Alan Partridge (Coogan), who’s obsessed with ABBA and “Bangkok lady boys.” Oh, and he loves to sing.
2. Steve Coogan: The Man Who Thinks He’s It. This standupspecial features all Coogan’s greatest characters, from scummyManchester siblings Paul and Pauline Calf (yes, he cross-dresses) toPortuguese singer Tony Ferrino. Simon Pegg and Julia Davis also pop in,but it’s Alan’s Kate Bush medley (below) that brings down the house. (UK DVD)
3. I’m Alan Partridge, Series 1. The BBC fired him. The wifeleft him. Thus, Alan’s manning the nightshift on local Norwich radioand living in a motel (where he thinks he’s scamming the staff bybringing his own extra-large plate to the all-you-can-eat buffet).Watch episode one.
4. Three Fights, Two Weddings, and a Funeral. Lager-lout PaulCalf celebrated slutty sis Pauline’s nuptials to a “Greek bloke calledStiros” by filming this pre-wedding video. (Hint: all doesn’t go asplanned.) See it here or check out Paul and Pauline in this equally funny episode of Coogan’s Run. (UK VHS)
5. 24-Hour Party People. The Coog’s breakout film role: He’smiraculous as real-life Manchester music mogul Tony Wilson, who reppedJoy Division, the Happy Mondays, and New Order.
6. Coffee & Cigarettes. In the best of this Jim Jarmuschpic’s 11 vignettes, Coogan plays an aloof version of himself oppositeactor Alfred Molina, who claims to have discovered that they aredistant relatives. It’s all here.
7. Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story. For my favoriteof his features, Coogan reteamed with Party director MichaelWinterbottom to portray Tristram, his dad, and an actor named SteveCoogan in this movie within a movie within a movie about egos,celebrity friendships, literary adaptations, and the British filmindustry. (Jeremy Northam, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, and GillianAnderson also appear.) Watch the trailer.
8. Saxondale. The best of his TV roles: Tommy Saxondale is anex-roady turned pest-controller with a young daughter, an ex-wife, anda cheeky girlfriend that is his heart and soul. He also has angermanagement issues. See this scene from episode 1. (UK DVD)
9. Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 6. Coogan guests as Larry’s therapist, who ends up in jail after a misguided attempt to help Larry win back Cheryl by mugging Cheryl’s shrink. It all makes sense, really. Here’s a clip.
Monday (August 18th): Using your realplayer, listen to Simon Parkes’ radio doc on the British love of takeaway food (fish and chips!) on BBC 7. If you can’t watch Primeval on BBC America, it’s downloadable on iTunes. Also available are radio series of That Mitchell and Webb Sound and The Mighty Boosh.
Tuesday: Hugh Laurie fans rejoice: House: Season 4 and Street Kings drop, as does British Daily Show correspondent John Oliver’s live standup special, Terrifying Times.
Wednesday: In the morning, watch the rerun of Eddie Izzard on The View on ABC. That night at 3am, tape Russell Brand on BBC America’s The Graham Norton Show,and remember to tell everybody how you were into him way before allthis MTV/Britney Spears nonsense, and you don’t appreciate how theypicked on you then.
Thursday: Listen to Coldplay’s live sessions on Xfm.
Friday: See Steve Coogan in Hamlet 2 (or Jason Statham and Ian McShane in Death Race).
Saturday: Lose yourself downloading old episodes of Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant and Karl Pilkington’s Xfm radio show from Pilkipedia. Then watch episode 1 of Windsor Castle: A Royal Year on PBS (check local listings).
Sunday: As if to rub in the fact that the series ended a week ago, Masterpiece Mystery! repeats the penultimate season of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries starting tonight at 9pm on PBS.