Stan & Ollie Review: A truly authentic look at two classic comedy legends.
Stan & Ollie respectfully shows why Laurel and Hardy were truly the best of their time and carry strong writing and performances from its leads to make the film a pleasing watch.
The film follows the comedic duo of Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) as they go through their last tour. With their popularity basically starting to fade, their growing bitterness over past issues, and Oliver’s health concerns, things start to turn a little sour for them. However, they find a little bit of love from long-time find and not only find new appreciation for one-another, but also for their own work.
Stan & Ollie was easily one of the most pleasant films I saw in 2018. It’s the kind of movie you leave feeling great and with a big smile on your face. Their journey feels like a story of redemption as they attempt to not only has Stan and Ollie try to redeem themselves with each other and resolve their personal issues, but to try to win fans back after changing times and being out of the limelight for such a long time.
All of this is encapsulated in Coogan and Reilly’s performances as they are truly perfect and absolutely both hilarious and endearing. Everything about their performances feels genuine, charming, and authentic to the performing style of Laurel and Hardy. All of the movements, banter, and skits that many would associate with Laurel and Hardy are on full-display thanks to Coogan and Reilly’s dedication to these iconic comics.
It’s also a film that focuses more on old-comedic style that just isn’t seen anymore, yet still holds up to this day. Laurel and Hardy’s witty dialogue and hilarious skits still hold up and are performed in absolutely hilarious fashion. That whole bit of Laurel and Hardy just slightly passing each other at the train platform had me rolling laughing.
The film, though, also has some truly heartfelt moments that will make you look at the comedic duo a little differently. Seeing Oliver struggle through his growing health problems and seeing the two’s careers basically end will really tug at audience’s heart strings. Even the scene towards the end of the film of Oliver mustering up the strength to get through a final dance number, that is shot beautifully thanks to director Jon S. Baird, had me choke up a little bit.
Now, a lot of the credit for the great things that this film brings has to be given to Oscar-winning writer Jeff Pope. Pope does a great job balancing funny and sad tones throughout the film and the story is told very smoothly. It also doesn’t just follow a typical biopic formula of following Laurel and Hardy from their humble beginning and go through their ups and downs. Rather it just focuses on their later years and it makes the story a bit tighter and unique. It’s much more focused and, as a result, I actually felt more of an impact.
Honestly, there’s a chance that Stan & Ollie could have been in the conversation of my Best of 2018 list. It’s a well told story about two of the greatest comedic icons in history full of heart, humor, and impact. The whole film really deserves a lot of recognition for everything it brings and Coogan and Reilly have truly never been better.