The Parole Officer (2001) starring Steve Coogan, Om Puri, Ben Miller, Steven Waddington, Emma Williams, Lena Headey, Stephen Dillane directed by John Duigan Movie Review

The Parole Officer (2001)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Emma Williams, Om Puri and Steve Coogan in The Parole Officer (2001)

Coogan's Bluff

Steve Coogan is like Ricky Gervais, they have their own style of humour, a certain type of persona which they trade on and it isn't for everyone. As such I admit I have never been a huge fan of Steve Coogan when in full Alan Partridge mode, he just got under my skin but when he tones that down and finds himself with other comedians he is bearable. That brings me to "The Parole Officer" which sees Coogan playing a character with toned down aspects of Alan Partridge and partnered up with some other strong comedians and whilst the end result isn't great it is amusing. In fact "The Parole officer" has an easy going comedy tone and an idea which would have worked well for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost which is kind of amusing as Simon Pegg has a small part in "The Parole officer".

After being hauled in front of a disciplinary committee, parole officer Simon Garden (Steve Coogan - Marmaduke) is transferred to Manchester where whilst trying to assist a young joyrider finds himself being set up for a murder by a corrupt copper. With the only evidence to prove his innocence being a CCTV tape locked in a bank vault Simon calls on the help of former parolees George (Om Puri - East Is East), Jeff (Steven Waddington) and Colin (Ben Miller) to break into the vault in order to get the tape.

Lena Headey in The Parole Officer (2001)

"The Parole Officer" might not be the greatest comedy ever made but it works for two reasons; for fans of Coogan his character has just enough of his Alan Partridge persona to appeal and then it has the ineptness of criminals trying to rob a bank. Much of it isn't that original as we watch the diverse gang argue, cock up and have to deal with the corrupt police trying to stitch Simon up but it has great energy and plenty of amusing set pieces to work. A whole series of scenes revolving around a head in a fridge is not that original but delivers the darkly amusing pay off intended. And the various daftness from an escape from a police cell to these inept criminals working together delivers the general amusement intended especially with the whole "Ocean's Eleven" style escapade of robbing a bank.

But the real reason why "The Parole Officer" works is down to the supporting cast which has been put together. The comedy of Om Puri travelling down a zip wire or Steven Waddington playing it as a slightly daft ex criminal allows for Coogan to bring his specific brand of humour but never over whelm the movie with it. And it doesn't stop there as Ben Miller adds more humour as does Stephen Dillane as the bent copper plus there is Lena Headey who sort of sexes the movie up, well she does appear naked in one scene.

What this all boils down to is that "The Parole Officer" isn't great comedy because the basic idea and jokes are kind of familiar. But the energy and the variety of characters as well as a surprise twist cameo right at the last makes for a fun movie.