Hollywood’s most dynamic duo return (Stan & Ollie review)

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly return to our screens after appearing together last month in Holmes and Watson. A million miles away from that rubbish pile, they this time appear as Hollywood’s great comedy double act. Telling the story of Laurel and Hardy’s final tour together, Stan & Ollie is a beautifully sentimental tale of friendship and love.

Stan & Ollie is a big warm hug of a film. It takes you in its embrace for an hour and a half, and gives you a wonderfully sweet tale spattered with melancholy. The narrative takes us through Laurel and Hardy’s last tour together, as they deal with the struggle of thinning audiences, diminishing bank accounts and dying fame. It’s a tragic story that two of Hollywood’s brightest and best loved stars spent their final time performing in these circumstances, but the film doesn’t allow that to ruin the mood. By perfectly casting two of today’s funniest stars, the film is instead much brighter.

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are so unbelievably great in this film that it is almost like Laurel and Hardy are back with us. The pair have perfected the mannerisms, accents and quirks of the duo, and their on-screen chemistry is really something to behold. The highlights in the film are when Coogan and Reilly reenact Laurel and Hardy’s classic material, and these timeless slapstick routines still deliver the biggest laughs.

Among the other cast members are the fantastic Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda as the duo’s wives, and they give the two leads a run for their money as funniest double act. The wives don’t get along at all, and their bickering also provides a lot of laughs.

However, the most important stars of this film are the makeup team behind Reilly’s prosthetics. Four hours were spent daily in the makeup chair, transforming John into Oliver Hardy, and the makeup crew have done a remarkable job, seamlessly blending the realistic prosthetics.

It is a very slick film at 97 minutes, and delivers everything important while never outstaying it’s welcome. It is very economical with its run-time, and the tightly written script means that the story has great pace, but can breathe when it needs to. It is an incredibly sweet and emotional film, telling a timeless story of the love and friendship among Hollywood’s most iconic duo.

It should be said that, though wildly sentimental, the film is very simply made. It is an easy film, with an unchallenging narrative and endlessly predictable plot points. However, when the end result is as satisfying as it is, this thankfully doesn’t ruin the film, and instead simply heightens the emotional payoff at the end.

Stan & Ollie is a brilliant biopic telling the untold story of the duo’s final tour. With two perfect co-stars, fantastic humour and a sentimental message, it is a worthy biopic of the legendary pairing.

5 stars 4

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