Stan & Ollie is a biopic about the famous Laurel & Hardy comedy duo that took the world by storm in the 1930s. This film follows the very end of their careers by exploring the last days of the duo during the United Kingdom Tour.
Before this film I honestly didn’t know all that much about the duo Laurel & Hardy. I knew that they were big names in comedy at the time but I didn’t know much about the people behind the names Laurel & Hardy. Strangely enough I didn’t even know their first names, I suppose that’s where Stan & Ollie comes in. This seems to be more of a character piece on the duo than anything else, and I have got to say that I really enjoyed my time with this film. It was heartfelt, well-made, and above all absolutely charming. The films’ story follows the lives of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy after having been apart for a number of years after Laurel had been forcefully ejected from the film studio where Hardy was still under contract. 16 years later the duo begin a tour of the United Kingdom in efforts to get a film deal and rekindle the brand and their friendship. This gives way to hijinks and some really genuinely funny jokes and skits throughout the film to keep the tone light and cheerful, often using the same style of humour found in the original Laurel & Hardy films.
It was clear that a lot of love went into the movie, just the raw amount of effort in the cinematography which went from the clever use of shadow and colour to multiple shots with zero cuts that transitioned smoothly from exposition to world building all while feeling fresh and interesting. The performances by both Steve Coogan (24 Hour Party People) and John C. Reilly (Magnolia) are extraordinary as Stan and Ollie respectively. They do an excellent job portraying the characters, and they were just a joy to see perform on screen. Overall there isn’t much to say in terms of the cons of this film, the only part that sticks out to me seems to be an excuse to throw conflict in at some stage that gets resolved later on in the same third. Everything in this film was stellar and seemed to be made by people that had a real passion for this duo and their story. I didn’t go in expecting to like the film this much but the only real thing I can say is go see it! Besides a few small niggling issues with a few line deliveries and small things like that there is nothing overtly wrong with this film. It’s charming, funny, heart-warming, and a genuinely fantastic send up to the original comedy duo.