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The Parole Officer
IMDB Rating: 6.4/10 from R votes
Release: 10 August 2001 (UK) /

The Parole Officer

Genre: Comedy, Crime
Director: Steve Coogan,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Failed parole officer Simon Garden (Coogan) is framed for a murder committed by one of Manchester's leading police officers. The only evidence proving his innocence is a CCTV video tape locked inside a bank vault. With the help of four inept ex-criminals and token love interest Emma (Lena Headey), Garden must break into the bank and steal the CCTV footage in order to clear his name. Written by Anon

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Critic Reviews

Simon Garden is a parole officer but not a particularly successful one. When one of his assigned ex-cons, Kirsty, steals a car and some drugs Simon believes that the arresting officer, DI Burton, has pocketed the drugs. He follows Burton to find out more and ends up witnessing him murdering a known underworld accountant. Intimidated and moved out of his job, Simon realises that the whole thing was caught on cctv and he can use it to prove Burton's guilt but there's only one problem – the security tape has been placed in the vault of the local bank. Against all his values and beliefs, Simon calls together a collection of the ex-cons that he had put straight and puts together a plan to rob the bank, steal the tape and use it to prove the murderer.

Many films are not really worth the bother of going to the cinema and paying your money to see and, for me, The Parole Officer was one such film. So three years later I decided to watch this for free when it arrived on channel 4 and, while it was a silly little thing, it still made me laugh a few times and that was enough for me. The plot is silly and simple but it has a nice little comic touch to it that creates a general air of humour as well as several specifically funny moments. Of course it is nonsense and not hilarious but it did the job for me and was funny in a rather basic and silly way – although if you are expecting to be laughing out loud all the way through it then I imagine you will be disappointed.

The cast is pretty good and features a lot of well-known faces (well, certainly well known to fans of UK comedy). Coogan is hardly at his best here and this is not a great showcase for him (it just doesn't compare to his better work) but he is still funny even if his Simon is just a very poor man's Alan Partridge. Support is good for him from the likes of Om Puri, Emma Williams, Steve Waddington and the great Ben Miller. None of them really shine but they are as good as the film deserves and help support Coogan well enough. Omar Sharif makes a very strange cameo (but an effective one) and the wonderful Simon Pegg showed just how able he is by getting laughs by simply exchanging a glance with Julia Davis.

Overall this is a silly British comedy without a great deal of style or imaginative wit but one that still managed to make me laugh several times throughout the film. The humour will appeal more to a British audience than anyone else; certainly the casting is designed to appeal to an UK audience and the sense of humour will too. Not a great film by any means and far from being the best example of the abilities of those involved but it raised a few laughs and had a humorous tone all the way through that I quite enjoyed.

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