When I was a young geek, I used to love the old time comedy teams. I loved Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges (to a lesser extent) and the tandem of Laurel and Hardy. These comedians made me laugh and when I saw that we were getting a biopic of the life of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, I was excited.
Then, I saw Holmes and Watson and it tempered my excitement for the performance of John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy, because he was so bad as John Watson. However, I knew John C. Reilly was better than what I had seen in that travesty, so I kept my fingers crossed.
John C. Reilly was absolutely amazing as Oliver Hardy in this film, putting any doubts I may have had to rest. Both Reilly and Steve Coogan, who was Stan Laurel, perfectly embodied the two comedic greats (and EYG Hall of Famers).
The relationship between Stan and Ollie was at the center of the film, and it showed that the relationship had a few cracks in it. The film focused on a time near the end of their careers when Laurel and Hardy toured Great Britain. The film dove into a time in the past when Hardy had done a film with a different partner because Laurel had been fired and Hardy was still under contract. That “betrayal” seemed to stick with Stan and colored some of his thoughts about his partner.
It also showed Stan Laurel as the driving force behind the comedy of the pair, while Hardy listened to the suggestions and put it into effect.
The charm of both lead actors really carry this movie. They do an amazing job of becoming Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and their performances were spot on. It had to be effective or else this movie would not have worked at all. The recreation of the stage show was wonderful and, especially the two doors bit, was just awesomely funny.
There were a couple of songs in the film that were sung mainly by John C. Reilly that were beautifully rendered. And the final performance of the well-known dance was suspenseful and dramatic.
The arrival of Stan and Ollie’s wives, played by Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda, brought another level to the relationship and showed the world what it must have been like to be married to showmen like these men. Both actresses brought a new energy to the screen when they were there.
Sure, Stan & Ollie may not have been as deep of a biopic as you could get, but the film was an enjoyable experience and was delightful. I enjoyed the entire movie.