They are probably the most famous comedian duo in the world to this day, and now director Jon S. Baird is joining them STAN & OLLIE a touching memorial that focuses less on the close friendship of the two Hollywood stars than on their comedy talent. A good idea! We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly), the world’s most popular comedy duo, are on a tour of Britain in 1953. Their best years as the “kings of Hollywood comedy” behind them, they are faced with an uncertain future. At the start of their cross-country tour, the auditoriums are disappointingly empty. But thanks to their talent for making each other laugh again and again, the spark begins to spread to their audience. Through the charm and brilliance of their performances, they manage to win back old fans and inspire new ones: the tour is a huge success! But the ghosts of their past catch up with them and put Stan and Ollie’s friendship to the test…
Explanation of the Ending
The British-American comedian duo Laurel and Hardy – also known here as “Dick and Stupid” – can look back on a remarkable CV. Between 1921 and 1951 it appeared in 27 feature films and 80 short films. Many of the gags in it were developed by comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy themselves. Not least because the two had their peak during the silent film era, their humor is considered groundbreaking for what is now called slapstick. In 1961 the two actors received an honorary Oscar for their life’s work; five years after Oliver Hardy died in Hollywood at the age of 55. Another 56 years later, the first film was released, Jon S. Baird’s biographical drama “Stan & Ollie”. above (and not with) the two stars, for whom the “Drecksau” director is primarily concerned with the close, friendly relationship between the two men and how this changed as a result of their success, but especially through the dry spell that followed. For a film about the two brutal comedians, “Stan & Ollie” is remarkably calm and calm, so that the film is bearable even for people who have absolutely nothing to do with the duo’s humor – the author of these lines speaks from experience .
Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C Reilly as Oliver Hardy.
In the very first scene of “Stan & Ollie,” Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy move through a film set, chattering about the status quo of their careers and the Hollywood business. It’s almost a little unfortunate that such a strong moment opens the film, because Jon S. Baird opens the door to expectations that the film, despite all its qualities, never quite achieves (in short: a film begins with the strongest Sequence at all and then doesn’t stay continuously at one and the same level, it inevitably leaves you with the feeling that you’ve lost ground towards the end). However, that doesn’t mean that the staging effort behind this scene, which lasts several minutes, with its ingenuity and attention to detail, isn’t still impressive. Rather, Jon S. Baird throws the audience directly into the decade of the early 1950s and gives them the feeling of being right in the middle of it, rather than just being there. Cameraman Laurie Rose always maintains a necessary distance from the two protagonists so that you can see as much as possible of the lovingly authentically furnished backdrop (“Pet Sematary”) without much effort, images that transport him directly into his decade. “Stan & Ollie” could also be a film from the 1950s, which is reflected in the story, which is both simple and always close to its characters, as well as in the emphasis on reducing charms to a minimum. The focus is clearly on the two main characters, the secondary focus is on their wives and, at the very edge, the gradually changing rules of Hollywood business perhaps also play a role. But as clearly structured and calm as “Stan & Ollie” presents itself here, you hardly see even down-to-earth biopics these days.
In addition to the scenes of the smallest possible gestures and remarks, the brief insights into Laurel and Hardy’s stage program and film shooting seem almost like a foreign body. For a few scenes we see Dick and Doof, Stan and Ollie or whatever they were called in action; and there the two main actors Steve Coogan (“The Dinner”) and John C. Reilly (“The Sisters Brothers”) Having perfectly adopted the mannerisms and articulation of the great role models, you have to look twice to see whether the makers didn’t simply use archive material from the real comedian duo. The two Hollywood bigwigs prove to be the ideal choice in their leading roles – John C. Reilly was even nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy for his performance. Although this choice is definitely deserved, it is surprising for two reasons: Firstly, it is not entirely clear why Steve Coogan was not taken into account (while they are both equally strong in their individual scenes, it is when they play together that they really blossom on). On the other hand, “Stan & Ollie” is a film about two comedians, but to equate it with a comedy is downright outrageous. Especially in the second half, dramatic depths open up within the story, which do not lead to tears of laughter, but rather to tears of sadness.
The wives Lucille Hardy (left, Shirley Henderson) and Ida Laurel (Nina Arianda) also have a say.
By screenwriter Jeff Pope (“Philomena”) The story, based on AJ Marriot’s book “Laurel & Hardy – The British Tours”, begins after the two protagonists’ glamorous time as “kings of Hollywood comedy”, “Stan & Ollie” is not exactly a film about failure. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were simply far too successful for that during their time as touring stage comedians. At the same time, the biopic clearly focuses on what fame and success did to the characters and not how the duo achieved that success in the first place. This results in many tragic moments. Above all, the inclusion of the two wives Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson) and Ida Laurel (Nina Arianda), who do not want to take away their husbands’ time on stage, but do not want to lose them to the entertainment machine for anything in the world, adds to the story once to a whole new depth – even if Henderson (“OK yes”) and Arianda (“Florence Foster Jenkins”) Sometimes their roles are a little patronizing. However, this is forgotten at the latest when “Stan & Ollie” shows in the last half hour what price Stan and Ollie have paid their entire lives for the applause and the money. Without pointing fingers, but with the help of a deeply sad dialogue in which Jon S. Baird places his two main characters in the same bed for a few minutes, he makes it clear that absolutely nothing in the Hollywood industry is left to chance. And that even those who always make others laugh often don’t have much to laugh about themselves.
Conclusion: In his outstandingly cast biopic and fantastically equipped “Stan & Ollie”, director Jon S. Baird deals with the time after the great career of the comedic duo of the same name and gets very close to the contradictory characters.
“Stan & Ollie” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from May 9th.