Stan & Ollie

Laurel and Hardy were an extremely popular comedy duo from the early 20th Century. Alongside Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton, their gifts for physical and verbal comedy delighted millions. Their prestige still lingers with their trademark bowler hats and unique looks continuing to be recognised. Behind every successful partnership is an interesting story to tell which ‘Stan & Ollie’ gamely tries to do. Exploring the personal and professional lives of the gifted performers, it lifts the lid on a duo transcending generations long after their earthly departures.

Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C Reilly) were a successful comedic partnership for decades. Looking back at the later years of their career, the story starts in 1953 with their lives at a crossroads. Past regrets and professional stagnation have taken a toll on their friendship. With a long tour of the UK ahead of them with no new film in sight, the future seems bleak. But surprises arise in ways changing them. With their memories flitting back and forth over their lives, the legacy they leave becomes a personal holy grail the men aim to reach before the end of their days.

Jeff Pope’s excellent script for ‘Stan & Ollie’ genuinely digs deep into the psyche of an iconic comedic duo. Although that may sound pretentious, the film is anything but. Due to Coogan’s and Reilly’s fantastic performances, ‘Stan & Ollie’ consistently shines until the final fadeout. The story effectively conveys the strong bond the men had with their partnership - a marriage of sorts. Like any union tough times would surface but their adoration for each other’s talents is starkly seen.

The period setting and costumes look amazing. Shining above all those are the performances from a first rate cast. Comedians often make solid dramatic actors as they know where to tease out the drama from the silliest of situations. ‘Stan & Ollie’ manages to praise the team but isn’t afraid in revealing their inner turmoils and mistakes they made. The ninety minutes spent in their company manages to add further dimensions to their work with ‘Stan & Ollie’ one of the best recent biographies made.

Humour never dies it thrives if it’s strong enough. ‘Stan & Ollie’ shows how the simplest of humorous routines could last decades. It’s well worth seeing with the pathos mixing well in the antiquated dramatics of a still brilliant comedic combination.

Rating out of 10: 8

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