STAN & OLLIE Starring: Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly and Danny Huston Directed by: Jon S. Baird Rated: PG Running time: 1 hr 38 mins Sony Classics
They were one of the greatest comedy teams of all time. The thin, quiet Englishman and the almost larger than life "Babe" from Georgia. There job was to make us laugh and this they did. But when the laughter stopped, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy found themselves on the outside of Hollywood looking in.
Featuring two award-worthy performances by Coogan (Laurel) and Reilly (Hardy), "Stan & Ollie" tells the story of the duo as they mount what they hope is a comeback with a vaudeville tour of Great Britain. Interspliced among the trip are scenes from the duo's past. We join them on the set of 1937's "Way out West." While working on the film they discuss their upcoming contract renewal and the hopes of more money from studio head Hal Roach (Huston). Laurel is released from his contract and Hardy is left to do a film with Harry Langdon ("Zenobia"), which is heretofore referred to as "the Elephant movie." Though the two have reunited for the tour, there appears to be no love lost between them. When Laurel states that he loves "Babe" (Hardy's nickname), Hardy replies, "You loved "Laurel and Hardy," but you never loved me.
If I'm going to throw out kudos to this film, and I already have with the actors, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing make-up work presented. Like Hardy, Reilly has (and I mean this in a nice way) beady eyes and you can see into Hardy's soul through Reilly's. Coogan is equally brilliant as Laurel, who spends a majority of the film writing scenes for a comeback film he knows will never be made. Thankfully this one was.
If you're not familiar with the work of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, I urge you to seek it out, either through home video or YouTube. If you are, and are a fan, I urge you to seek out "Stan & Ollie."