Death of the dou­ble act

Time Out Abu Dhabi - - INSIDE -

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)

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