Happy New Year, everybody! Hope everyone had a great one and is all geared up for those New Year’s Resolutions that you’ll never commit to. Unless you’re serious about them, then go git ’em, tiger! Be an inspiration to us all!
Anywho, Laurel and Hardy… is it bad that I’ve actually never heard of them? I think that’s bad. I mean, I’ve obviously heard of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, MODERN TIMES and THE GENERAL being among my favorite slap-stick comedies- awe hell, comedies in general – and the Marx brothers, but somehow Laurel and Hardy went over my head.
The story looks like it’s a pair of comedians who have reunited to tour once again. However, some past choices have left them with some bad blood to work through.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have HOLMES & WATSON survivors, Steve Coogan (TRIP/SPAIN , SECRET/PETS , and MINIONS ) and John C. Reilly (RALPH/INTERNET , KONG/ISLAND , LOBSTER , and GUARDIANS ).
In support, we have Danny Huston (GAME NIGHT , WONDER WOMAN , THE KINGDOM , and upcoming films IO  and ANGEL HAS FALLEN ), Shirley Henderson (T2 TRAINSPOTTING , Harry Potter CHAMBER , and GOBLET ), and Nina Arianda (FLORENCE/JENKINS  and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Jon S. Baird, known for stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of. Penning the screenplay Jeff Pope, known for stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Rolfe Kent, known for DOWNSIZING (2017). The cinematographer is Laurie Rose, known for OVERLORD (2018), FREE FIRE (2017), and the upcoming PET SEMATARY (2019). Finally, co-editors are Úna Ní Dhonghaíle (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming ALL IS TRUE ) and Billy Sneddon (GHOST STORIES  and ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS ).
Overall, I think this is going to good. Here’s hoping.
This is my honest opinion of: STAN & OLLIE
In 1937, Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) were the biggest comedy duo in the world. However, in 1953, their popularity waned thanks to a very long breakup of their act. They’re now back together, but there’s been more than a few issues to overcome. On the one hand, Stan continues to hold a grudge against Ollie for breaking up their act so long ago, despite his efforts in moving on from it, and trying to get his movie deal off the ground. On the other, Ollie’s health continues to decline and slowly threatens the continuation of their U.K. tour.
Why yes, John C. Reilly, I do accept your apology for HOLMES & WATSON, as this movie is clearly the superior of the two comedies.
Man, this movie had almost the perfect opening. No, I take it back. It was the perfect opening. It was all done in one long tracking shot, following Stan and Ollie through an old-timey Hollywood lot, passing by actors, crew, and the traditionally cliched Roman soldiers, which even Ollie comments on, and never letting up on the sheer amount of charm and likability out of the actors. By God, it was amazing on an acting, writing, cinematography, the whole enchilada is fantastic.
Though the movie doesn’t quite keep up the long, tracking shots, the movie never tires of giving us fun and brilliant performances from both Coogan and Reilly. Stan is a fiercely passionate chap about being back together with Ollie. He’s always thinking of scenes for his Robin Hood movie that he wants to do with Ollie and always looks for ways to perform, even if they’re not in front of a camera, or on a stage. But it’s clear that the man never really quite got over what he felt was a betrayal from Ollie, who didn’t fight to keep their act together. He knows that all of this happened a long time ago and that everything in the past “should stay there,” but it’s obvious that the two never cleared that air and you can even argue that he was constantly working to keep his mind off of the past. And Ollie, the lovable man that he is, he’s going into this tour with Stan all willy-nilly. He knows that there’s some re-calibration to get through, but he’s happy to be doing what he’s doing. There’s not a moment where these two are on screen that doesn’t put a smile on your face, or they make you laugh. If they’re not making you laugh, they’re making you cry, and it’s so well-earned. And before you start making accusations, yes, I did cry a bit. A few tears went down my face. Sue me. I loved these characters.
But the spotlight isn’t just shun on these two. Even their wives get some screen time and they’re a riot too. Clearly, Lucille (Shirley Henderson) isn’t the biggest fan of Ida (Nina Arianda), but the way that the two women work off of each other without actually making eye contact is actually quite fun. Ida is so full of herself, with an almost nauseating pride in her own background in acting and dancing, that she clearly flaunts it a lot. In fact, she flaunts it so much that Lucille has committed her single story to memory. And yet, Ida clearly has a subtle, cold fondness for Lucille. There’s a scene at the end that is so touching that it got the waterworks going. It’s like, “Aww, she loves her.” It’s so cute, I love it! By the way, Henderson’s voice hasn’t changed in the slightest since her Harry Potter days.
I suppose the closest thing to a nitpick that I have is that I would have probably liked to have known why Stan and Ollie didn’t patch things up sooner. I mean, sixteen years apart is a long freakin’ time. Did they keep in contact? Were things always awkward? Is this U.K. tour really the first time they’ve interacted since they broke up? It’s not really made clear. If I were to hazard a guess, they did in real life and the drama that we see in the movie happened much earlier in reality. Still, if that’s my biggest complaint, then this movie would be great. And since it is, then this movie is. The comedy is spectacular, the characters are wonderful, and now I intend to check out more Laurel & Hardy comedies. As a recommendation, this is a must-see. Perfect for the end of the year and perfect to be reminded that John C. Reilly is actually immensely talented.
My honest rating for STAN & OLLIE: 5/5
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