Stan & Ollie

Stan & Ollie

Jon S Baird (2019)

93min
PG Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Screenwriter Jeff Pope has always gravitated towards dramatising the lives of real people, with the Moors Murderers, Lord Lucan and Cilla Black among his previous subjects. Expat Lancashire lad Stan Laurel and Georgia-born Oliver Hardy are the focus here, and Pope picks up with the comedy duo as their fame is dwindling and they embark on a dowdy theatre tour of Britain and Ireland in the mid-1950s. Directed with affection and precision by Jon S Baird, the story begins with a knockout tracking shot at the height of the funnymen's pre-war pomp, then flashes forward. Stan and Ollie are brought to life by a note-perfect Steve Coogan and John C Reilly (in astonishing latex make-up), who re-create the dainty dance routine to At the Ball, That's All and other skits. It is a masterstroke to introduce slapstick into the lives of the two fading stars, including some business with a bell at the desk of a Newcastle hotel and an oversized trunk that bumps down some stairs. Baird uses sparing CGI to expand the scenes around real locations in Birmingham and Bristol, and when the men's wives arrive - the stern Ida (Nina Arianda from Florence Foster Jenkins) and devoted Lucille (Shirley Henderson) - the picture really fills out. Ultimately, this is a film about friendship, and for its target audience of hopeless hankerers after a simpler past, Stan & Ollie is an absolute delight.

Summary

Premiere. Biography of Laurel and Hardy, focusing on the events of 1953 as the comedy duo try to re-ignite their film careers by embarking on a gruelling tour of British variety halls. As they set out on their demanding schedule, with their wives back home in the US, Stan is distracted by his attempts to pin down the producer of their proposed comeback film and Ollie tries to heal a rift caused by a perceived professional betrayal. The build-up of pressure starts to tarnish their precious partnership. Steve Coogan and John C Reilly star.

Cast & Crew

Oliver Hardy John C Reilly
Stan Laurel Steve Coogan
Ida Kitaeva Laurel Nina Arianda
Lucille Hardy Shirley Henderson
Hal Roach Danny Huston
Bernard Delfont Rufus Jones
James Finlayson Keith MacPherson
James Horne Joseph Balderrama
Cynthia Clark Susy Kane
Harry Langdon Richard Cant
Director Jon S Baird
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Entertainment OneGuidance: Swearing. Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 11 Jan 2019
Comedy