A true bromance!
I’d be surprised if you’ve not even heard of the legends Laurel and Hardy. Should anyone list classic comedy duos, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’d make the list. Assuming that a small handful of people are unaware of the pair, they peaked during the late 1920s through the mid-1940s – known for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the boisterous Hardy.
In 1953, they were no longer the box-office giants they had been and struggled to find work in the US.
With a screenplay by Jeff Pope (based on A.J. Marriot’s book ‘Laurel & Hardy: The British Tours’), Stan & Ollie mostly focuses on them taking their act on the road, which promoter Bernard Delfont (Rufus Jones) encouraged them to do. It’s a demoralising start for Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Hardy (John C. Reilly) with the theatres being half empty.
The problem lies in many fans assuming the pair had retired with one asking at the box office, “Who is it that will be playing Laurel and Hardy?”
Thankfully, it doesn’t take long for the duo to start selling out venues – due to a few shameful publicity stunts and some new material that made people fall in love with them all over again.
Although things are going great on stage, there are a few dramas behind the scenes – as is the case with many biopics.
The film really finds its groove once their wives, Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson) and Ida Laurel (Nina Arianda) join them on the road. Henderson and Arianda play the roles perfectly – providing just as many laughs as the title characters. And speaking of which, Coogan and Reilly nailed their performances. The actors clearly put a lot of work into the mannerisms of the people they’re portraying. In fact, at times it’s easy to forget that you’re not watching the original duo on the screen. I would not be surprised if a few awards fall on the actors’ laps for what they’ve done here.
This movie could quite easily have been depressing to watch. A line from the trailer has one fan stating, “It’s amazing that you are still going strong – still using the same old material.” There’s nothing more heart-breaking than watching people you admire become has-beens. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. The director (Jon S Baird – Filth) has created a love letter to the icons.
In fact, I was surprised just how sweet this movie was. As mentioned previously – sure, there is some drama, but it’s nothing more than a squabble between friends.
This is a story that I’m surprised was given the green light. We don’t particularly learn anything new about the comedians and there’s very little conflict which is quite often an ingredient that sells tickets. However, I’m glad that it was made. I can’t watch original footage of Laurel and Hardy without a huge smile on my face and this film had the same effect on me.
Genre: Comedy & Drama
Running Time: 1hr 38mins
Directed By: Jon S. Baird
Cast: Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Rufus Jones, Shirley Henderson & Nina Arianda
See Stan & Ollie and much more at Showcase Cinema, Peterborough. Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date show times. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas UK’.