For two decades from the late 1920s to the 1940s Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were hugely successful as the world’s most famous slapstick comedy duo.
Hefty, bumbling Ollie and his little partner Stan kept the fans laughing in film after film as their well-loved characters stumbled their way through one hopeless mishap after another.
Stan and Ollie picks up their story in 1953, when the partners, now welll past their prime, are embarking on a tour of English music halls.
They plan to end the tour with a triumphant show in London, and a snew movie contract to follow, but it doesn’t quite work out that way.
It’s simple tale of the ups and downs of their long partnership but the film is transformed into something special by the wonderful performances of Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy.
The pair capture brilliantly the comic genius of Laurel and Hardy, their impeccable timing and the rapport and deep friendship between the two.
It’s a delight to see them perform the well-honed dance routines, with the heavy Ollie srprisingly light-footed, as well as the old-time songs and silly mishaps which were the trademarks of the comic masters.
At first the English tour is disappointing but it soon picks up after the couple are persuaded to take part in some publicity gigs.
Then their loving wives arrive, adding some depth to the film, with Shirley Henderson as Lucille Hardy (the third Mrs Hardy) and Nina Arianda as Ida Laurel (Stan’s fourth).
Behind the scenes Stan and Ollie are not always happy with each other. It seems Stan never got over his disappointment when long ago Ollie appeared in a film with someone else.
Stan himself, in real life as well as in the film, could never contemplate going on without Ollie. In fact, after Hardy died in 1957, Laurel refused all offers to perform with anyone else. He died nearly eight years later.
Directed by Jon S. Baird and written by Jeff Pope, the film is touching, sentimental and a joy to watch.
Stan & Ollie opens next Thursday, February 21, at the Windsor Theatre and Luna On SX.
Watch the trailer…