REVIEW — “Stan & Ollie”
Stan & Ollie tells the true story of how one of the world’s most famous comedic duos of all time decided to use a tour through post-war Britain as a platform to hopefully revive their careers and possibly relationship with one another. Maybe this will make readers weary of my opinion, but I genuinely have never heard of Stan & Ollie prior to watching this film. After watching it and doing some research, it’s apparent that their impact and cultural influence is huge. Even as someone who never had any nostalgia or personal attachment to their material, I still found Stan & Ollie to be an extremely entertaining, funny, and surprisingly emotional viewing experience.
I think that my blank slate on Stan & Ollie as performers was what actually helped me enjoy this as much as I did. Since I knew nothing about their relationship prior to watching the film, I thought the way the film slowly unraveled their past with one another and the mysterious rift between them was incredibly interesting. The film does such a great job at developing the chemistry between the two of them so that when the emotional beats hit, they hit fairly hard. This is also in credit to John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan both giving tremendous performances. You completely buy that they are life-long friends who just happened to start performing together.
One of the most interesting aspects of this film is how it examines Laurel & Hardy’s fall in popularity. It is pretty depressing to watch sequences of them performing stellar comedic material to theaters that are only halfway full. Towards the third act of the film, this concept only becomes a backdrop to the character moments, but I appreciate that it was there because it was pretty fascinating to watch. The entire film is just simply about two men doing what they are good at, and trying to make their relationships and lives stay afloat in the midst of it all.
I don’t necessarily have any issues for this one. I can’t say it’s a masterpiece, just because it just never quite hit that high of a level for me. But considering the film set out to make a biopic of two comedic geniuses and their relationship with one another – it makes a damn’ great one with such a big heart that you can’t help but love it. Even if you were unfamiliar with the two of them like I was, I highly recommend checking this out. You won’t regret it.