Cert PG 98mins Stars 4
Hats off to Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly who don the famous bowlers of Hollywood’s most popular double act and do delightful justice to the supreme slapstick talent of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
Blessed with two modern performers at the top of their game, this funny, affectionate and respectful tribute is also surprisingly moving as it touches on age, fame and friendship, with an array of headwear charting the state of their messy relationship.
Sixteen years after an acrimonious split at the height of their big screen stardom, it’s now 1953 and the pair arrive in Newcastle Upon Tyne for a live tour of England’s low rent theatres, intended to showcase their talent with the hopes of catapulting them back to the big time in film.
Dogged by ill-health and financial issues, their fans believe them long retired, younger generations don’t recognise them, and to add to the pressure their formidable wives are flying in with high expectations.
Played by the waspish Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda, they’re a scene-stealing double act whose comic chemistry is a venomous echo of the mens.
Coogan and Reilly bring out the competitive best in each other and perfectly capture Stan and Ollie’s famous mannerisms to an almost unnervingly accurate degree.
Their affecting and testy relationship have us believe they’ve spent years together honing their act as they deliver the familiar evergreen gags with great skill and immaculate timing.
Stan And Ollie is nominated for Best British film at this year’s BAFTAs which also sees Coogan nominated for Best Actor as he again demonstrates what a skilled dramatic actor he is, while Reilly was nominated for Best Comedy Actor at this weeks Golden Globes.
But as Stan says, ‘you can’t have Hardy without Laurel’, and it’s as a team they bring heart and humanity to this poignant portrait and a long overdue celebration of a pair of comedy giants.