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Parole Officer, The (2001, Steve Coogan, Lena Headey)

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Simon Garden (Steve Coogan) is a parole officer in Blackpool but he’s so inept, his colleagues actually engineer his transfer to Manchester. There, he happens to witness the murder by bent cop DI Burton (Stephen Dillane) of a dodgy drug-dealing accountant, only to find Burton’s pinned the crime on him. His only hope is a CCTV tape locked in a bank vault that will incriminate Burton but Garden knows nothing about safe-cracking. But a few of his clients do…

Assembling a gang of George, Jeff and Colin (Om Puri, Steven Waddington and Ben Miller), they set about robbing the bank, aided by Emma (Lena Headley), a policewoman who’s fallen for him. But even if he gets the tape, can he escape the trap set by Burton?

Coogan’s first major feature role wisely eschewed the opportunity to just re-hash his Alan Partridge character, striking out instead to create a smart comedy/crime caper compared favourably to Ealing’s The Ladykillers . With a stellar cast including cameos from Jenny Agutter, Simon Pegg and even Omar Sharif, the film zips along nicely and if there are few surprises, Coogan and Normal’s script and Duigan’s direction keep the action moving.

production details
UK | 93 minutes | 2001
Director: John Duigan
Writers: Steve Coogan, Henry Normal

cast
Steve Coogan as Simon Garden
Lena Headey as Emma
Om Puri as George
Omar Sharif as Victor
Stephen Dillane as Inspector Burton
Ben Miller as Colin
Bruce McGregor as 1st Policeman
James Smith as Tribunal Man
Simon Pegg as Deflated Husband
Togo Igawa as Japanese Businessman
John Henshaw as Cochran
Amy Shaw as Old Lady
Steven Waddington as Jeff
Emma Williams as Kirsty
Bernard Wrigley as Bike Group Leader
Jenny Agutter as Victor’s Wife
Julia Davis as Insinuating Wife
Peter Armitage as Chief Constable
Emma Gilmour as Secretary
Susan Jane Tanner as Stern Woman
Iain Mitchell as Tribunal Chairman
Olga Grahame as Jeff’s Mam
Justin Burrows as Mills
Marc Goodhall as ‘Death’
Clive Kneller as Deacon
Buster Reeves as 1st Hardman
Brian Nickels as 2nd Hardman
Jake Abraham as Seedy Man
Kate Deakin as Club Receptionist
David Nicholls as Bill
Eiji Kusuhara as Japanese Businessman
Francesca Hall as Club Manageress
Iain McKee as 2nd Policeman
Nayef Rashed as Victor in Disguise