The Parole Officer (2001)

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Released 29-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Easter Egg-Steve's Favourite Deleted Scene
Featurette
Deleted Scenes-6 +/- commentary
Audio Commentary
Theatrical Trailer
Music Video-Atomic Kitten
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 90:07
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (46:23) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Duigan
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Steve Coogan
Lena Headey
Stephen Dillane
Om Puri
Emma Williams
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Alex Heffes


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Simon Garden (Steve Coogan, voice actor from the classic 80s series "Spitting Image" and star of the UK T.V. series "I'm Alan Partridge") is a parole officer in Manchester. While he is a well-meaning sort, his annoying habits and ineptitude see him transferred from his place of work after everyone in his office signs a petition to get rid of him. Soon after moving to his new office, he takes on the case of Kirsty (Emma Williams), a troubled young girl with a history of car jacking and arson. In the process of looking into Kirsty's case, he meets Emma (Lena Headey), a lovely Police Constable whom he takes an instant liking to. He also meets Inspector Bunton (Stephen Dillane) who is heading up Kirsty's case. While following inquiries, Simon stumbles onto a drug deal and witnesses a murder by none other than Inspector Bunton. When he is discovered by the crooked cop and his cohorts (in a hilarious scene with Simon doing the last thing you would do while watching someone get killed......okay, maybe the second last thing you would do......you have to see it to believe it!), Simon is told to keep his mouth shut or he will be off to prison for a long time. Not wishing to have involvement in murder potentially hanging over his head, he enlists the help of three of his former parole clients; the only three of one thousand that have gone straight under his supervision. With the help of PC Emma and Kirsty, they set out to retrieve a security camera tape from a bank safe deposit box that will prove Inspector Bunton's guilt and clear Simon's name.

    Steve Coogan co-wrote the screenplay for The Parole Officer with Henry Normal in the late 90s and always had himself in mind for the role of Simon Gardner. With a cast of both little-known (outside of the UK) and international actors including Om Puri (Gandhi, City of Joy, The Ghost and the Darkness) and with UK born Australian director John Duigan (The Year My Voice Broke, Sirens, Lawn Dogs) on board, Steven Coogan set out to make a quintessential British Copper/Crime farce. I think he succeeded fairly well.

    While some of the situations seem contrived and implausible (Emma taking an unnatural liking to Simon and agreeing to have dinner with him instantly?!?! I don't think so.), this little film does take you on a fun trip and despite whatever storyline flaws you might find, I found it to be a quite an enjoyable trip. Don't worry about plot holes and improbabilities, just sit back, enjoy, and laugh. I did.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Whilst watchable, this transfer can only be described as grainy. More grain than Nebraska in harvest season. I would think that this could be attributed to the quality of the film stock used and not to any atmospheric quality that the producer or director wished to impart to the film. There is really no need to detail any specific time for grain to be seen, as it is easily seen at any time during the movie.

    The transfer from the film to disc is reasonable, considering the fact that the original film stock is of a fairly ordinary standard.

    This disc presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. All details of this feature suggest that its original aspect ratio may have been 1.85:1.

    Shadow detail in this feature is a little lacking during some of the darker scenes of the movie such as at 13:30 and 20:20 and during other darker moments of the film. I could not call the transfer of this film to disc sharp, but its clarity is not a total write-off and for the most part the various scenes are easily watchable.

    The colour in this feature ranges between bright and slightly muted with definition and accuracy not being much of a problem. There is some colour noise and tapestry effect at 78:47 on the blue stage backdrop. Not a huge concern, but it is there. Colours for the most part seem natural and do not attract attention to themselves in a negative way.

    There are some MPEG artefacts to be seen during this feature with some minor macro blocking at 53:57 and 55:21, amongst other places. A particular bad patch for this disc is located at 55:23 and is a combination of macro blocking, blur and grain. It is not pretty. Surprisingly, aliasing is not an issue with this title. Scenes such as 61:38 featuring a city skyline pan do not exhibit the expected aliasing problem such scenes often pose. With this title, that is an unexpectedly welcome surprise.

     Other than the aforementioned grain, there are no other film artefacts to be seen here other than the very occasional nick or scratch.

    We are offered English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles on this disc. The subtitle track is of reasonable accuracy and conveys the dialogue of the film well.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change placed at 46:23 within Chapter 10. While it is mid-scene and not ideally the best place for a layer change, it not overly distracting and with a player of good capability, it may even verge on the undetectable. Otherwise, it could have been better placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer on this disc is actually quite good and unlike the video transfer is not abundant with flaws.

    This disc offers 2 soundtracks with quite a clean English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as the main audio track and an English Audio Commentary track presented in Dolby Surround 2.0. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track does a fine job with the content of this disc, presenting a fairly natural soundstage at all times. An irritating issue with this disc is the fact that both audio and subtitle options available on this title must be selected via the menus and not on the fly with the appropriate buttons on the remote control as would be expected. This is not totally unknown, but is very annoying.

    The clarity of the dialogue in the feature is very good with no problems detected. Audio sync is also spot-on, clean and accurate.

    The music score composed by Alex Heffes  keeps within the traditional boundaries of the typical comedy/farce genre and works to good effect being rousing, ominous, energetic and triumphant as required by the film. There are a few tribute scoring passages honouring both actors (one in particular) and various films hinted at within the movie. A very good workable score that is totally in keeping with the style and direction of the film.

    While this film doesn't lend itself to a huge amount of surround activity, the surround channels do get some work with this presentation in both an atmospheric and direct manner. The general effect is of an enveloping sound that does service to the mood of the film. The surround portion was always accurate to the on-screen goings-on within the movie.

    The subwoofer did have some role in the soundtrack on this disc with 4:35 (loud music) and 6:04 (an explosion) being stand-out portions of the subwoofer's duties. Otherwise, as with the surround channels, the subwoofer works in concert with the other 5 channels as it should.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    We have on offer on this disc a good range of extras that offer insight into the film and are not just "filler extras" that are sometimes offered to make a disc seem to be of more value.

Menu

    The menu starts up after the usual studio and distributor logos with an animated and narrated menu scheme. Steve Coogan describes the various features available on the disc while the menu is drawn on-screen. As with the key lock-out issues on both the audio and subtitle tracks, the same annoying system is used on menu start-up. The description of the features available continues for 40 seconds before you are able to access the menu options. As soon as you are given the use of the menu, a mini trailer continues in the centre of the menu that runs from 0:40 to 1:35 when the screen comes to a halt with the menu and the last scene from the mini trailer static on the screen. At the end of the animation and mini trailer you are given another menu option labelled "Replay Loop" which will run the menu start-up again, just in case you forgot how to navigate the various options. The menu is 16x9 enhanced and features a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    Our options on this menu are: Play, Scene Selection, Extras, and Subtitles along with the aforementioned Replay Loop. Selecting the Scene Selection option takes you to an animated screen that plays music from the soundtrack as 4 scene windows are drawn on screen. After about 10 seconds, the menu becomes static and remains so even if a different set of 4 scenes are selected.

    The available extras are:

Featurette (22 min.)

    This is broken into 6 sections:
  1. Physical Comedy and Action Sequences (From 00:00 to 5:00)
  2. Writing Comedy (5:00 to 7:40)
  3. Acting (7:41 to 13:25)
  4. Directing Comedy (13:26 to 16:53)
  5. Getting Started (16:54 to 18:33)
  6. Acting Together (18:34 to 21:31) with the feature credits running to 22:04.

    These 6 sections including the credits run continuously and cannot be selected as chapters. This is a very thorough documentary with Steve Coogan's comments verging on clinical. He takes comedy VERY seriously. The featurette is presented full frame and not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Deleted Scenes

    There are 6 to choose from, each in a very raw state with the time codes still intact and each featuring an optional commentary. The commentary for these deleted scenes is not overly informative and sometimes verges on non-existent. Still, an interesting look at what was left on the cutting room floor. These Deleted Scenes are framed in 1.78:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Feature Commentary

    A full length commentary featuring:  Steve Coogan, Director John Duigan, Script Co-Writer Henry Normal, and Executive Producer Duncan Kenworthy. A sometimes sparse commentary with each giving their insights into the making of the film. Mildly informative but that's about all. A once-listen commentary. The audio has a fair amount of inherent echo from the room in which the commentary was recorded.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in 1.78:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, this runs for 1:26. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Music Video

    Atomic Kitten, a UK girl band perform in their Music Video for the song Eternal Flame. This is the movie tie-in version with both the band Atomic Kitten and scenes from The Parole Officer featured. The video is 1.78:1 non 16x9 enhanced and runs for 3:19. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Easter Egg

    There is a hidden deleted scene that is mentioned in the commentary but not included in the normal Deleted Scene menu. To access this extra, you need to highlight the Extras selection on the main menu. Once you have highlighted the extra selection, press the down button. This will highlight the bottom window near the Scene Selection button. Press enter and this will take you to a vault keypad as depicted in the film. You can highlight a Hint selection that will take you to a portion of the film where you will find a clue as to the code. The PIN for the keypad is the (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Battle of Hastings, which took place in 1066. Once the PIN has been entered you are taken to Steve Coogan's favourite deleted scene. All I can say is - lads, enjoy!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title has not been released in R1. From all accounts, the R2 retail version  and the R4 version are identical in content. The R2 rental version is reported to be full frame with minimal extras and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Summary

    The Parole Officer is a good fun movie that doesn't fail to entertain. It is light and funny and a fair excuse to turn off the brain and just enjoy the ride. Recommended.

    The video is watchable, although there is quite a bit of grain and some film-to-video artefacts.

    The audio mix works quite well with use of all 5.1 channels as required by the film.

    The extras included cover everything that you could want to know about the film. About the only thing missing are Cast and Crew Biographies, which would have been nice.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, March 31, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output
DisplayHitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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