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Posts Tagged ‘Shirley Henderson’

Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly

“STAN & OLLIE”  My rating: B- 

97 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

An O.K. movie elevated by a pair of jaw-dropping lead performances, “Stan & Ollie” will be appreciated best by those already familiar with comic legends Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

Which is what…six percent of the population?

Never mind. “Stan & Ollie” so perfectly channels the style of this great comedy duo that as soon as it’s over you’ll go to YouTube to check out the real thing. There many pleasures await.

Jon S. Baird’s film is a fact-based comedy centering on a 1953 tour of British music halls by Stan Laurel (the skinny Englishman) and Oliver Hardy (the obese Yank).  At the time they hadn’t worked together for almost two decades following Laurel’s expulsion from the Hal Roach Studio over demands for more money and control over their films.

In fact, Jeff Pope’s screenplay begins in 1937 with L (Steve Coogan) & H (John C. Reilly in an impressive fat suit and makeup) at work on their last film together. In one masterfully composed and executed tracking shot we follow the two stars from their dressing room through the bustling studio to a soundstage where boss Hal Roach (Danny Huston) awaits.

There Stan makes his demands, Roach fires him, and Oliver — who still has two years on his contract — must look for a new comedy partner if he’s to continue making a living.

All that is so much bad water under the bridge by the time 17 years later that Stan accepts an offer from a fly-by-night Brit promoter to tour England.  The idea is to prove to potential backers that L&H still are popular enough to warrant investing in their proposed film parody of the Robin Hood legend.

Initially, it doesn’t look good. The theaters and accomodations are crappy and the crowds thin. But Stan, the brains behind the outfit and a master promoter, signs on for enough public appearances at charity events, etc., that within a couple of weeks the two are playing to sold-out crowds.

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