RMDb: Stan and Ollie

"It's good, it's fine" - Oliver Hardy

Portraying the last act of world-famous comedy duo from the classic cinema era, ‘Stan and Ollie’ shows the charm of classic cinema comedy but it’s focus is on the conflict between the two stars fails to be anything remarkable.

The story follows Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) of the famous comedy duo ‘Laurel and Hardy’. After their prime years in Hollywood in the 1930s, they reconnect for a comedy tour in Britain and potential movie deal in 1953. Despite being about a comedy tour, any comedy takes a backseat to the relationship between the two stars and the rift that has formed after a falling out.

Coogan and Reilly’s performances as the reconnecting best friends are the highlight and heart of the film. They capture unique and conflicting personalities as well as the chemistry the two have with each other. The interactions and comedy the two have with each other and other characters is a joy to watch. They feel like life long friends but with flaws that expose themselves throughout the film. What is not a highlight however is the drama that comes from this conflict.

Despite their drama and feelings from the past coming up being the focus of the film, it fails to have the impact it intends and instead just leaves you feeling bored and uninterested. During the drawn out argumentative scenes it just makes you wish for more of the lighthearted comedy seen earlier. The talk of money, while a prime motivator for the characters, wears thin when it’s discussed ab nauseum.

Image courtesy of EntertainmentOne

While taking a backseat, the comedy shows the charm the duo had that was able to captivate the world. The various skits that play out from their stage show throughout the film add much needed breaks to the growing conflict between the two stars during the tour. The movie is also not short of jokes and entertaining actions, mainly from the supporting cast.

The supporting characters all do a good job of adding different humor and drama to scenes than that of the stars. The wives (Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda) complement the characters of Laural and Hardy well, showing the care and love they have for their husbands. The dodgy tour manger ( Danny Huston) brings much needed levity to the emotionally low points in the story.

The set design and wardrobe are all well done and show off the style of the period. The cinematography and soundtrack, while having stand out moments are serviceable for the most part.

 If going into this film wanting a character driven relationship drama about comedians with some humor then this is something to look out for. The actor’s performances and obvious passion put into the research and production of the film shows off in a lot of ways but it’s hard to recommend for anyone else besides fans of the original Laurel and Hardy.

Three angry ducks out of five


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