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The Parole Officer More at IMDbPro »

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Not great but silly and rather amusing at times

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
21 June 2004

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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16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Wonderfully underrated romp

Author: Ben Nunn ( from London, England
20 February 2002

After mediocre initial reviews, this film could become a cult classic.

It's a 'perfect crime' comedy with hints of 'A Fish called Wanda', and different people will take different things from it. There's high-level slapstick, satire/parody and a lot of Steveish in-humour for die-hard Coogan fans.

The entire plot is unbelievable to a farcical extreme, and every character other than Simon Garden suffers from a lack of depth, but then this was always going to be a Coogan vehicle (Rover 75 V6 with Walnut dash, perhaps) and he makes the transition to big screen star successfully, if reluctantly.

I suspect that as Coogan matures as an actor and relaxes into mainstream life, the Parole Officer's reputation will retroactively improve and in ten years time, this will be seen as a classic British comedy.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

My 10th Review: Hugely Enjoyable Caper

Author: intelearts from the big screen
15 December 2006

Best surprise I've had in a long time: funny, sweet, and just well, good. It's not crude, or rude ('cept for a couple of obligatory phallic jokes and a couple of swear words) : it could be Rowan Atkinson in the title role. Here Steve Coogan, for my money, leaves behind the skewering satire and parody that made him a household name and a cult figure on UK television, and by half way through the film develops a character that you root for 100%

Nice storyline, a fun caper, and mixed bag of personalities make this a much better mix than expectations might lead you to believe.

I love Ealing Comedies, and good British comedies like Brassed Off, and thought the recent US remake of the Ladykillers was just about everything you don't want a crime comedy movie to be...

... the thing about the Parole Officer is that it is simply enjoyable; it has great pace, some tension and thrills, good laughs, with enough silliness, and ideas to keep it afloat; but it also has a sweet heart and a decency at its center. We thoroughly enjoyed it: especially the last hour: once Coogan stops trying to prove he can develop figures only to poke fun about - he becomes a really likable character - and that's no bad thing.

It's fun - pure and simple - which is a quality sadly lacking in films these days. Definitely worth viewing.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Conventional feelgood caper movie, unconventional lead character

Author: leapso from Australia City
25 August 2002

You've seen similar plots, characters, tension/release "will the good guys prevail against unbelievable odds" elements if you've seen any movies at all. But you probably haven't seen too many lead characters like Steve Coogan's rather ungifted parole officer in this.

Coogan specialises in 'little' English characters (though quite a diverse range over his career) - graceless, irritating, of terrific drive but little achievement, and prone to finding the greatest possible embarrassment and humiliation in any situation. They're somewhat like Michael Palin's favourite type of characters (if you know Eric Olthwaite from the TV series "Ripping Yarns" that's probably one of his) but Palin had more affection for them as a rule.

Somewhat unusually for Coogan he displays a certain affection for his parole officer here - he has his triumphs - but this is a more conventional kind of entertainment than Coogan is normally prone to.

It really is just a feelgood comedy caper movie, with a stand-out lead character, but the feelgood stuff is done pretty slickly, and the protagonist is invariably hilarious - Coogan is funny every time he puts himself at the centre of a scene.

I can understand why other long-term Coogan fans are surprised or disappointed about the conventional nature of this movie, as opposed to his TV work. But I think "The Parole Officer" achieves everything it intended to. Steve Coogan is an exceedingly talented man.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Hardly original but certainly entertaining

Author: Tom May ( from United Kingdom
14 August 2001

Some of the criticism this film has received seems a little unfair. While its concept, plot and characters are not very inventive, the tone of the film works. The humour is often very amusing indeed, and much does amuse in the film. Even the predictable attempts at "Gross-Out" humour work in themselves, if perhaps not in the context of the film.

Questions could be raised about the film's odd mix of styles - the attempts at naturalism and post-modernism, old-fashioned lightweight adventure and Ealing whimsicality - all seem at odds with each other, yet an entertaining film emerges from this. The playing of an impressive cast is sound, with the supporting players, like Om Puri and Ben Miller making the most of limited parts. Stephen Dillane does a steady job as a smug, self-satisfied policeman baddie. I much enjoyed the absurd bit where he laughs maniacally for a while while on TV and the camera zooms into the TV screen Coogan is watching him on. Newcomer Emma Williams is an effective addition to the cast, although she doesn't have all that much to do in plot terms, come to think of it. The finely named Lena Headey is very inoffensive as the "love interest", and thankfully the romance such as it is is light-hearted and made part of the convoluted plot. Perhaps a problem is the excess of characters, a few of whom could be done without. Omar Sharif's cameo was briskly enjoyable, but hardly necessary to the plot, for example. Steve Coogan, so successful on TV with the Alan Partridge character, goes for a more likable, less intricate comic character in this film. He is often excellent, in scenes such as when he does an odd, buffoonish dance in a club. There are plenty of effective little character touches and importantly, one is made to like his character and want him and his "gang" to win out, so to speak, by the end. A film reminiscent of past British Ealing comedies, yet with a fair dose of crudity. In the context of today, this is an impressively funny film, but it does not quite match up to "The Ladykillers" or "The League of Gentlemen", for example. It is slightly overlong, but largely a winning, refreshing minor comedy.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Great fun,one of the funniest films I've seen this year

Author: ( from Middlesbrough, England
27 August 2001

The Parole Officer marks Steve Coogan's entrance into the world of cinema and what an entrance it is.In probation officer Simon Garden,Coogan has created a character that we genuinely want to win.We want him to defeat the bad guys but never during its entire running time do we want to BE him.

Simon means well but always manages to get himself in embarrassing situations.And when he gets himself in these situations,he just digs himself deeper and deeper into them.The basic plot is already known so I don't need to type that out.However,there was an amazing car crash near the beginning that I wasn't expecting.

I don't want to go into more detail cos I will probably ruin all the best bits for you.Another thing,one of the major problems I had with comedies of 2000(Road Trip,Meet the Parents etc.) was that the trailers gave all the best bits away.Luckily,The Parole Officer doesn't suffer from this problem and doesn't even mention the scene in a museum that had me in stitches.If you get the chance to see The Parole Officer,go see it.I guarantee you won't regret it.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A brilliant comedy

Author: l_cobern1989 from United Kingdom
16 October 2007

This a very enjoyable film and is a great family film as well only if the kids are older than 12. I first watched it on video finding it at a car boot sale. I was defiantly glad i got it because i couldn't stop laughing through out the whole of the film. Since i have had it i have watched it about 8 times and still laugh each time. It has a great cast in it as well, such as Ben Miller, Om Purin, Lena Headey and many more. They all put in great performances that keep the audience laughing thanks to Steve Coogan who wrote the film himself. This a brilliant British comedy and will keep you laughing through out the whole of the film.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Tea, Coffee, Hot Bovril.....

Author: FlashCallahan from Leicester, United Kingdom
9 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Failed parole officer Simon Garden 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 love interest Emma, Garden must break into the bank and steal the CCTV footage in order to clear his name.....

Oh the transition from TV to big screen is a long and arduous path. Some succeed with very little effort (Simon Pegg), but for others, they suffer an unfortunate Mis-step, which hinders them for a while.

2001 had two particular cases of the latter. The awful Ali G Inda House was one, and this was the other casualty.

The story is good enough, but the humour just feels so seventies TV sitcom, and the inclusion of the vomit scene on The Big One wreaks of desperation. Every one who is a fan of Coogan knows that he is a comic genius, his characters are hilarious and self deprecating, but here with Garden, it seems that he is trying to hard to channel Peter Sellers, but it always ends up with him reverting back to Partridge, which hinders the narrative.

The rest if the cast are fine, but they are relegated to stereotypes, and appearing in little sketches that the film resorts too for laughs.

It's a shame, because there are a few funny moments in the film, Om Puri is truly funny in his role, but at the end of the day, it just feels like a TV Christmas special, and no amount of Omar Sharif in a comedy wig can change it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Only average for a British comedy, which makes it brilliant relative to American ones.

Author: carbuff
11 May 2015

As a British comedy I would rate this as pretty ordinary, just because I hold their comedies up to very high standards and this is only average in that universe. Compared to American comedies, this is probably a solid ten , so I'm averaging it out to an eight.

It's worth watching, because there are a lot of laugh out loud moments, although, at the same time, many of the jokes fall flat. The plot overall is good, while being a bit uneven, but it redeems any failings with some unexpected twists. Some people might not be comfortable watching this movie with children because of a few mildly sexually explicit scenes.

My summary is that I don't regret the time lost to this film, I just think it had a lot more potential.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Forget your expectations and enjoy it for what it is.

Author: greeny-10 from Sydney-Australia
16 October 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


A gang of likable crooks led by a socially inept amateur plan a bank robbery with the aid of a series of low tech gadgets, ending with a feel good musical interlude. Expat director John Duigan pays homage to that excellent little Aussie movie "MALCOLM" here and if you enjoyed "THE PAROLE OFFICER" I'd suggest you make the effort to track down this 1986 heist comedy. Most people's opinions of "THE PAROLE OFFICER" seem to stem from the expectations they bring into it. I watched it with low expectations after reading a few bad reviews but ended up being pleasantly surprised, but if you're a fan of Steve Coogan's edgier work in "Knowing me, knowing you' and "24 hour party people" you'll probably be disappointed in this effort to make a conventional, feel good comedy. It's not a classic. The mix of comedic styles don't really sit together all that well, and even for the low standard that you apply to the plot of a gag movie the holes in the story tend to grate on you. (Why didn't they just kill him, why not erase the tape, why does gorgeous Lena Headey have a crush on the gormless Coogan.)But the things that work about this film outweigh the flaws. The gang of crooks is very likable, especially Om Puri as the philosophical serial bigamist and Emma Williams as a spunky joy rider who just wants to belong. The locations are unusual and nicely shot. Steve Coogan basically plays his Alan Partridge role again, the earnest but out of his depth social ingenue with a stream of consciousness patter. If you've been fantasising over Jenny Agutter ever since "Walkabout" and "Logan's Run" you'll see that she's aged rather nicely, and there's a surreal walk on part from Omar Sharif that completely comes out of left field. So if you've got a friend who's been banging on about how funny this is beware, you may be disappointed. But if you've read the reviews and are thinking about giving it a miss, try it. It's not a waste of time.

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