I grew up being encouraged by my parents, especially my dad, to watch all the classic comedy teams such as The Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, the Marx Brothers, and of course Laurel and Hardy. As a young girl, I would watch these black and white films with my little brother, totally immersed in the grainy images as if they were Disney movies. There was a distinct ambiance to these films that gave me the ability to contemplate life in simpler times, while leading me to believe that I was meant for the 20th century.
As a child, I loved watching these films because they were different. Not only did the black and white images intrigue me, but the elegant outfits, the old-fashioned phrases, and the simple sense of humor never failed to make me laugh. I could live in another century for a moment while watching these films, and I was also able to connect with my Dad through our shared interest in the comedy teams he watched and loved also as a child. It was no surprise that when my Dad and I found out they were making a Laurel and Hardy movie, we marked our calendars and counted down the days until its United States release.
'Stan and Ollie' showcases Laurel and Hardy's final performance tour in 1953 through post-war Britain. They went on this European tour to revitalize their comedy act, and to gain newfound interest. Unfortunately, the tour doesn't go as planned as the pair navigate age, health problems, and lack of publicity. This film delves into the world of a growing comedy film industry and what that means for the teams such as Laurel and Hardy who got left behind.
Despite being a famous comedy duo, the reality is Laurel and Hardy fell victim to being glossed over due to new comedy talent. They also had strain put on their friendship through a falling out years back when Oliver Hardy made a movie with another comedian without Stan Laurel, causing a betrayal in Laurel's eyes. 'Stan and Ollie' remains authentic as the pair maneuvers through the awkward stage of trying to find their synchronicity again as a dynamic duo.
Part of this authenticity relies heavily on the fact that the actors chosen to play the parts of Laurel and Hardy not only look the same as the real deal, but their chemistry on screen is natural. Stan Laurel is played by British actor Steve Coogan, and Oliver Hardy is played by American actor John C. Reilly. They both underwent tremendous makeup and costume feats in order to help them look the part. Both had makeup on that aged them, and Reilly had special effects used to assist him in looking the similar size as Hardy during this time in his life.
Despite the duo being known for their comedy and silly nature, "Stan and Ollie" is a fairly serious and at moments emotionally heartbreaking film. There are moments of raw emotion that stick with you as you see the pair struggling to connect despite caring deeply for each other. Time and the constant demand of their industry play the villains in this film, as we see Laurel and Hardy struggling to stay afloat and remain relevant in the revolving door of Hollywood film and media.
The film pays acute attention to the differences between Laurel and Hardy in their personalities and how they clash. Laurel is often too serious and does all the writing for the duo, while Hardy is too laid back and likable that it sometimes seems unnatural. This is pinpointed as a thread carried throughout the film, and at times seems like it will result in the final disruption of the pair. Combine that with Hardy's ongoing health problems and cardiac arrest while on their tour in Britain, the pair really encounters their fair share of turmoil with all the possibility of ceasing their time together.
Watching 'Stan and Ollie' allowed me to escape into the past century. We need films that showcase the simpler times in history to remind us who we are and where we came from. It is because of teams like Laurel and Hardy that comedy is what it is today. This double act fought for comedy in their terms, and they shaped the comedy world in more ways than one. Most importantly, they sought to make people laugh. In these times, laughter is what we have to hold unto.
Despite the plot taking place in 1953 during their last European tour, there are symbols we can take from this beautiful movie about the importance of fighting for friendship, the reality of how time affects us all, and how focusing on the simple things in life such as laughter can carry us through to the end. I give this movie 4.5/5 stars. I cried, I laughed, I cried some more. And to me, that is what life is all about. The tears and laughter we experience tell us we are alive, and I want to thank Laurel and Hardy for reminding me of this.
Stan & Ollie | Official US Trailer HD (2018) www.youtube.com