The Parole Officer Review
Simon Garden (Steve Coogan) is a not very good Blackpool parole officer who has only managed to rehabilitate three criminals ever. And his colleagues find him extremely irritating. So he's reassigned to the Manchester office, where he soon finds himself framed for a murder he didn't commit. The only evidence that will save him is a videotape held securely in a bank vault. So he rounds up some of his former clients to help him break into the bank...
Although he has acted in films before (notably The Wind in the Willows and The Indian in the Cupboard), The Parole Officer is his first starring role. As a film, it's no more than average, but you can adjust that rating up or down according to your liking for Coogan. As a character, Simon Garden isn't in the Alan Partridge class, and Coogan overdoes the annoyance factor in some scenes. Lena Headey, made up to look like a waxwork with expressiveness to match, plays Emma, a policewoman and is a very bland love interest. The supporting cast playing Simon's gang (Om Puri, Steven Waddington, Ben Miller, Emma Williams) are much more lively; on the other hand the villains, led by bent cop Stephen Dillane, don't register much.
Director John Duigan is an English-born Australian who has been making films since the 1970s, at best quite distinguished, at worst routine. He does a professional job of work here, bringing the film in at just over an hour and a half. If the film feels padded, blame Coogan and Henry Normal's script for lame attempts at gross-out humour such as a scene involving copious vomiting on the Blackpool rollercoaster. Another scene in a museum, with a very phallic statue, seems to be added just to boost the running time.
When all's said and done, The Parole Officer is a watchable 90 minutes. Coogan fans will no doubt adjust my rating upwards, while Cooganphobes would be highly unlikely to watch it in the first place.