Tag Archives: awkward comedy

The Parole Officer: A Coogan-y Film

I must admit I was excited to see Steve Coogan’s face on the cover of this movie on my Netflix. 2001 is a bit iffy for comedies for me (I’m a 200 and late… -r), but this one did the job for the most part. Steve Coogan wasn’t at top form (a bit of a problem) but I got through it all the same. The first scene was promising, but you can only be so outrageous before nobody watches your movies…

The story of The Parole Officer is a pretty straightforward one. Steve Coogan plays Simon Garden, and awkward and sad probation worker (confusing movie title, I

All too true…

know…). He is being transferred to another city (Manchester, I believe) and he’s going to be attempting to correct those sorry crooks that litter the streets of England. What he stumbles upon is something a bit more intense. A fellow officer in crime prevention, Inspector Burton (Stephen Dillane), commits a murder that is caught on security camera. Holding the evidence in his possession, Burton the crooked cop is planning on framing Garden if he tattles. Not wanting this being held over his head, Garden employs the help of the only four former criminals he corrected in robbing a bank with the tape inside. Oh, the comedic irony.

The most awkward place for Coogan? Strip club.

It’s pretty cut and dry from there. The movie has some of Coogan’s own brand of awkward comedy, but not enough to make it a signature film of his. (I’d say Hamlet 2 is more his style.) You get an awkward sense of Alan Partridge, but it comes up short of expectations. The acting is fine and the movie is dated, which always makes it a bit hard for me to watch. But overall, think Johnny English with dry comedy instead of slapstick. You got this film right there.

There are a couple of great little parts other than the versus mode of Coogan/Dillane. There’s Ben Miller as Colin, one of Garden’s former clients. Being Rowan Atkinson’s sidekick in Johnny English, it was a nice change to see him delivering comedy more than being the straight actor taking it all in. There’s Lena Headey as a watered down version of the strong British actress she will one day become in things like 300 and Game of Thrones. Not the most adequate of cops, it

Team of crack cons, assemble!

always gets weird whenever Coogan lays his puffy lips on a love interest in a movie. And then there’s a non-speaking cameo from Simon Pegg in the art gallery scene. I had no idea what to expect there. But worth a laugh.

The bank heist is a little above my understanding with some strange technology lingo and complicated means of infiltration, leaving part of the movie as bland. The back and forth between the cons was fine, although overall it lacked a certain star quality for me that would’ve

Aha! I’m Simon Garden.

sent the jokes home better. It really was an all eyes on Coogan film for me. Throw in some slapstick/situational comedy towards the end (and a break-in scene reminiscent of The Dark Knight) and you have yourself a throwback to the 1950’s heist movies. Not a bad roll into one.

Not one of my favorites, but not the worst Coogan attached film I’ve seen. I still feel like one of my only friends who actually recognized/knew Coogan in Tropic Thunder, something that saddens me to this very day. But it’s not about notoriety or popularity. There are those of us out there who salute Steve Coogan for his amazing contribution to the world of comedy. He deserves a ranking up there with Ricky Gervais, Matt Lucas/David Walliams, and even Monty Python. Can’t get enough of those Brits. For this, I give The Parole Officer a 6.8 out of 10.

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Gentlemen Broncos

Hello, my name is Dr. Ronald Chevalier. You may not know who I am, but I am the successful author of over 30 trilogies in the Cyborg Harpies series. I love the use of mammary cannons and mind probes. It’s best to use characters with suffix names like -ainous. I draw all my own cover art and am currently working on a new series that “inspiration” hit me like a troll named Teacup. I am one of the greatest characters of all time. Who am I truly? I am Jemaine Clement of the folk rock comedic band, Flight of the Conchords. Welcome to my film, Gentlemen Broncos.

From the same creator/director who brought the world the tame/awkward comedy of Napoleon Dynamite comes another movie of the same caliber. In this version, Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a young aspiring sci-fi writer. In his stories, Bronco (Sam Rockwell) is a hero of the Yeast, a material I’m not at all familiar with. In his pursuit of the evil Lord

Bronco on a battle stag. Nice.

Daysius, Bronco attempts to reclaim his stolen gonads. In his journey, Bronco encounters cyclopses, (?) pudding, and battle stags.

With this true potential inside of him, Benjamin hopes to have his work published, and he plans to do this in a contest at a local authorian convention, Cletus Fest. (Similar to a sci-fi convention, but nobody dresses up and everyone is a reclusive ego booster.) While there, Benjamin encounters the host of the convention, Dr. Ronald Chevalier, acclaimed writer in the aforementioned paragraph. Swept away by his presence and knowledge of cover art and troll clans, Benjamin submits his work, The Yeast Lords. Little did he know that in Chevalier’s current state, he was in need of some desperate inspiration. And it would come in the form of plagiarism. From this point on, it is a steady slope of failures and downtrodden feelings for little Benjy boy until he can pick himself up, trusty blowdart in hand and a mission to reclaim his creative piece of work.

Who doesn't love Dr. Ronald Chevalier and his "ainous"?

Now I’ve heard from other review sites and such that this movie was a poor attempt. For those who don’t like Napoleon Dynamite, I can see how that could come across that way. Hell, even for those who liked Napoleon Dynamite and hated this movie, I can understand trying to compare the two might be futile. But this movie is on another plane from the good old N.D. of our early high school years. It was all the rage (not trying to generalize a huge populace’s high school experience) back then to quote the bejeezus out of this movie, as it was with Anchorman. But what stood out to me about these films (and the lesser successful awkward cousin, Nacho Libre) is that these were wholesome films. There was no need for swearing or gross out humor that comes with a lot of F-bombs. This movies took a childen’s PG base and made an outlandish film out of toned down slang and some of the most awkward laugh out loud scenes I’ve seen in a long time. And I credit the shizz (see there, sample that) out of Jared Hess for these films. He’s brought a genre of film to the world that doesn’t need Hangover like situations and vulgarity to make it a piece of comedy. And that be the truth.

So let’s get back to the point of this film and just what makes it tick. Coming from a sci-fi enthusiast that may slightly phase me to be a bit biased about this film, (Dune all the way) there’s a certain charm to the science fictional. Set in worlds outlandishly unbelievable and yet endearing, this genre of writing is populated by the sexually deprived and socially awkward. I can’t remember the last time I read a sci-fi novel and marveled at how clinically nerds analyzed sex. (Being a nerd myself, word.) With no true substance of emotion (usually) we are given the world of a sci-fi writer from a logical perspective. And we are told this movie from the perspective of a young boy who, by the end of the film, truly learns how to stick up for himself and express emotions.

Surveillance Does. I hate those.

Accompanying this story of redemption comes two other stories. One, the truth of Benjamin’s novel, The Yeast Lords. Bronco and his journey of revenge goes hand in hand with that of Benjamin and his reclamation of creative property. Set in a world even I would watch, we are given cheesy graphics and explosions that endear an entire world of Star Trek and Star Wars fans for the pure effort the movie puts into the story is attempts to portray. Contrast this with scenes of the dialed up, transexual version of Sam Rockwell as Brutuss, the effeminate fighter of the cyclops and surveillance does. (He hates those.) Within these two extremes, the entire story of Bronco and his lynx that will rip your throat out comes to an end as we connect with a grow with the real world situations that Benjamin has to endure.

Lonnie, you strange bastard.

And with that real world comes some of the strangest characters I’ve ever seen. Starting with Jennifer Coolidge as Benjamin’s overprotective mother, Judith, and ending with Hector Jiminez as Lonnie Donaho, a strange-mouthed director/producer of the failed low-budget movie made from Benjamin’s novel, there are so many strange characters in between. There are few lulls in laughs in this movie (depending on your humor) and quite a few unexpected, crazy scenes that even I couldn’t handle. In comparing this to N.D. or N.L. ( Lonnie was also cast in Nacho Libre as another ridiculous character, go figure.) this movie goes farther than the other two. I mean, there’s a python pooping onscreen for godsake. At an unexpected moment too. It’s just all gold.

I could go on and on about all the ridonkulous characters and strange situations they find themselves in, but then I would be telling the whole movie. I’d rather leave that for you guys to go out and find out for

One day, Jemaine Clement will rule the world.

yourselves. I loved this movie. For a fact, I watched this movie 4 times in less than 3 weeks, if that means anything. I showed this to all my friends, and I hope you guys will go out and watch it too. It’s a bit hard to find (Damn you, Netflix) but it’s well worth it. Utilize your libraries and let me know what you guys think of it. Cause I thought this movie was an 8 out of  10. (About the same rating I’d give Napoleon Dynamite.) Sweet.