Death of the double act
The legendary Laurel and Hardy are brought back to the silver screen in a charming and brilliant new Àlm about their later years.
THIS BIOPIC ABOUT the classic comedy doubleact Laurel and Hardy is a sweet way to start the cinematic year.
Not since Martin Scorsese followed up the mob mayhem of Casino with two hours of self-restraint in Kundun has a director made such a pronounced movie-to-movie gear shift as Jon S. Baird does with his gentle followup to his 2013 Irvine Welsh adaptation,
Filth. Squalor gives way to Stan & Ollie,a wistful, heartfelt celebration of the friendship between comedy giants Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly), which contains plenty of cosy movie-biz nostalgia and some mishaps with hats. It’s a love song played in a minor key, and it leaves an unexpectedly lingering impression.
It’s also suitable for grandmas, if you need an option for your relatives.
Scripted by Philomena’s Jeff Pope (working closely from a book by Laurel and Hardy historian A.J. Marriot), the story charts the duo’s Ànal years as they embark on a gruelling tour of British theatres while trying to get a new Robin Hood picture off the ground. It’s 1953, and the world has long since moved on from their brand of slapstick to new talents like Abbot and Costello. The crowds are thin and their prospects look thinner. Imagine This Is Spinal Tap only with extra physical comedy.
The two leads are terriàc: Reilly deàes a slightly iffy fat suit to give us an avuncular but creaky Hardy, bemused by his friend’s work ethic and obsessed with the Àner things in life. Coogan, in particular, is a revelation as Laurel, dialing down the trademark head-scratching mannerisms and unpeeling layers of disappointment and melancholy as the funnyman grapples with their failing Àlm project and past wounds. Both disappear entirely into their characters, nailing the pair’s comic routines in a way that quietly speaks to a thousand hours of practice.
Stan & Ollie sprinkles in some of the pair’s classic lines, but it laudably doesn’t get bogged down in too much that’s niche.
A charming, entertaining Àlm for everyone. Phil De Semlyen
WHAT IS IT... A super tale about the twilight years of Laurel and Hardy WHY GO... For the brilliant lead performances DIRECTOR Jon S. Baird RELEASE DATE Jan 10 (TBA)