Stan & Ollie

January 18, 2019

in Movies

Film (2018)

Directed by Jon S. Baird
Screenplay by Jeff Pope
Inspired by the book Laurel & Hardy – The British Tours by A.J. Marriot

With Steve Coogan (Stan Laurel), John C. Reilly (Oliver Hardy), Shirley Henderson (Lucille Hardy), Nina Arianda (Ida Kitaeva Laurel)

Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel, John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy in 'Stan and Ollie'

Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel
John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy
in “Stan and Ollie”
Image: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

A depiction of the last tour of the great comedy team, Laurel and Hardy, with terrific performances by Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy.

Set in 1953, seventeen years after Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Hardy (John C. Reilly) hit their peak as film stars, now in their early sixties, they embark on a tour of theaters in the British Isles to revive and promote their act. They hope the tour will supply enough interest to carry off a new film they have in the works.

This film is pretty well done and tells a fascinating story of the last chapters of the career of the great comic duo. The most amazing part of it, however – and it is amazing – are the embodiments that the stars, John C. Reilly, as Oliver Hardy, and Steve Coogan, as Stan Laurel, provide for their characters. They are incredible in their realizations of the gestures and temperaments of Laurel and Hardy and it is these performances that make the film.

As well, there are some additional bonuses, particularly including the portrayals given to their wives by Nina Arianda as Ida Kitaeva Laurel and Shirley Henderson as Lucille Hardy. They both give strong interpretations to their characters and are quite funny as well.

Drama is interlaced with humor throughout as the comic pair reflect on their long mutual careers and the personal and professional disappointments that have occurred. The dramas are fairly intelligently conceived, though there are a few scenes – particularly one at a post-performance celebration – that slide into melodrama.

The score of the film is lush and sometimes intrusive. This is a small-ish film and sometimes the sweep and majesty of the waves of sound seem out of place. The editing is also a bit odd at times. Nonetheless, the power of the central performances is so strong that it overtakes other production issues.

Clearly, an enormous amount of effort on the parts of Coogan and Reilly was required to create the exactitude of their accents, movements and dispositions, not to mention the choreography of their routines. That, and an incredible job by the makeup people, especially with Reilly’s Hardy, lead to a most convincing result.

Overall: the film is entertaining, poignant, and certainly of historic interest to devotees of film comedy, and the performances by Coogan and Reilly not to be missed.

– BADMan

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