25 September 2023

Stan and Ollie

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Reviewed by Victor Rebikoff.

Director: Jon S. Bird, BBC Film & Entertainment One, PG 98 Minutes.

One of the world’s most famous comedy duos is brilliantly brought to life by director Jon Bird (‘Filth’) in his thoroughly enjoyable biopic of the legendary comedians Laurel and Hardy, having made their mark during Hollywood’s golden era.

The movie opens in 1937 with Stan (Steve Coogan – ‘Philomena’) and Ollie (John C. Reilly – ‘Chicago’) on the set of their final film disagreeing with director Hal Roach (Danny Huston – ‘Frankenstein’) before switching to 1953 where both are approaching their twilight years.

In order to revive their past film careers the popular comedians embark on a planned theatre tour throughout England and Ireland realising that Ollie’s failing health could possibly result in this being the final time they perform together.

After crisscrossing the country they are disappointed to see dwindling audiences but still receive significant applause from adoring fans for their comedic double-act routines, especially from their supportive wives, Ida Laurel (Nina Arianda – ‘Never Here’) and Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson – ‘Trainspotting’).

As the tour reaches its conclusion, and despite a few personal differences, it is the enduring friendship between the comic legends that is paramount, consistently displayed in the humour and warmth enjoyed by both in their long-lasting partnership.

Bird’s direction is impeccable,. Indeed his movie is a terrific tribute to two of Britain’s most iconic comedians who made people laugh throughout the world during the dark days of the Depression and the Second World War.

What makes ‘Stan and Ollie’ such an entertaining experience and so memorable are the perfectly pitched portrayals by Coogan (as Stan) and Reilly (as Ollie), particularly their remarkable resemblances to the real characters themselves, especially in Reilly’s case.

Apart from their stand-out performances there is also the heartwarming story of a celebrated comedic duo in their advancing years that makes seeing this movie a must,only to be later matched by the likes of Abbott and Costello.

Vic’s Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

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