I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
It’s been a long time, hasn’t it. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a review. A long time since I’ve stepped into a cinema. I can only apologise for my negligence. Let’s get started again.
Stan & Ollie follows Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy on what’s supposed to be something of a comeback stage tour of the UK in 1953 in order to pay for an upcoming feature. Stan is played by Steve Coogan and Ollie by John C. Reilly.
Films like this come by every so often with the intent of making you feel all nostalgic for the Hollywood of yesteryear. When entertainment was pure and good and geniuses, like Stan and Ollie, were on our screens.
There is a lot of that in this film and admittedly it goes into a little schmaltz, but I believe that there is something about this film that makes its showing of affection for these comedy giants much less cynical than its contemporaries.
For one thing, at no point does the film seem to suggest that since Laurel & Hardy stopped being big stars that the art or indeed the world is worse for it. There’s a very important, subtext-laden shot in the film where a despondent Laurel looks up at a poster for Abbott & Costello Go to Mars. Now one could argue that that kind of film is not the best use of the talents of Abbott and Costello, but their very existence proves that there is great comedy after Stan.
Stan & Ollie is a celebratory and whistful film, not a defeatist one. Laurel & Hardy know they can’t do what they do forever. They don’t wallow in hatred for an audience which doesn’t seem to want them. They just try hard to put on a great show. Films like The Artist seem angry at the public and film studios and technology and culture for the fact that silent films are no longer popular. This film says “Oh well, onto the next chapter”. That’s a much more mature way of handling it.
Of course, when you’re making the film to capture the greatness of Laurel & Hardy, you’d better get the right Laurel & Hardy. Here we have two of the finest actors working today.
Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are just outstanding, capturing everything from the face to the feet to the voices of the people they imitate. This is obviously helped by incredible hair and make up which has been inexplicably not been nominated for an Oscar.
When you see the two of them performing classic routines by L & H, you still find them funny. It’s always a mistake to make a film which makes you rather watch the thing the film is pretending to be (if you get what I mean). I admit I came out of the cinema wanting to immediately watch some Laurel & Hardy, but I didn’t feel like that while watching. I was too busy enjoying myself.
The rest of the film shows the pair interacting with one another and one can feel an intense love connecting them like an old married couple.
This is an incredibly heartfelt and humble tribute to a friendship that gave us some of the greatest comedy of all time.
Recommended Scenario: If you want to see a tribute to classic Hollywood which does not pander or patronise.