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Review: Stan & Ollie

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly star in Sony Picture Classics' STAN & OLLIE

The comedic team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had a huge impact and grew a large fan base during their time in the spotlight together generations ago. Back in those days, the general public never got a chance to know much of anything about the people who decided to entertain people as a profession. Well, Stan & Ollie wants to shed light on that classic duo, but I wonder how many people will take the time to actually see it?

The film takes place in 1953 when the iconic comedy team known as Laurel & Hardy (Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly) embarked on a variety hall tour that spread across Britain. Diminished by age and the deterioration of the fame they once knew, a tour of this magnitude looked to be a daunting task. And while doing all they could to reconnect with their fans, they are met with even more obstacles. As a result, questions arise that require them to figure out the meaning behind their long-standing partnership while the try their best to press forward.

Stan & Ollie is a well-polished movie that primarily focuses on the final years of the declining duo. There isn’t a great deal of depth being served up here, but there’s enough substance included to show the audience who these guys are and the lives they lived in their past as well as their present. Like the rest of the film, delivering both of these time periods to us is handled well as they’re able to find a proper balance that never seems out of sorts.

As far as the way the movie is delivered to us, I wouldn’t say there’s a lot being offered here. It’s small and basic overall, but it’s more than able to give us what we expect while carrying the story the way it should. What helps with that is that Stan & Ollie is also a short feature that’s straight to the point, so it won’t take up too much time either. This makes what we’re watching smoother and less strenuous to sit through. You get what you need and will likely leave feeling satisfied.

A large chunk of the credit for this has to go to the two protagonists that we follow from the start. One thing that’s easy to notice is that the chemistry between the two seems genuine. In watching this duo, you actually feel as if these two guys actually spent years together performing. This factor proves crucial as it’s capable of engaging the audience and the picture benefits from that.

And while they don’t have as much time as those two, I have to give credit to the two women (Nina Arianda and Shirley Henderson) who play the wives of Laurel & Hardy. Whether they were interacting with their significant others or each other, they assisted in breathing life into the film. A part of me wishes they would have been given more time, but that would have lengthened the movie and maybe made things feel less authentic since they may not have spent all that much time together in real life.

Anyway, Stan & Ollie is a nice little movie that most people will probably enjoy if they get a chance to see it. If you ever get around to it, seeing the quality that it contains won’t be difficult. Ultimately, the positives here come from a lot of things, but the actors in front of the camera really bring it to life. Because of this, you’ll be able to connect with the characters and appreciate the ride that they’re on for the brief period of time they spend on screen.

Rating: PG

Director: Jon S. Baird

Cast:
Steve Coogan
John C. Reilly
Nina Arianda
Shirley Henderson
Danny Huston
Rufus Jones

Film Length: 98 minutes

Release Date: December 28th, 2018 (NY/LA)

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

  • Score - 7/10
    7/10
7/10
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