Stan & Ollie is an irresistibly charming comedy about partnerships: friendship, business relationships, marriages, and all the ways they can collide. Filling the massive comedic shoes of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Steve Coogan lands a droll comedy genius and his vivacious Ben Affleck-to-his-Matt Damon John C. Reilly produces the goods under a tremendous fat suit. This biopic blends enough about a fraught showbiz friendship to bring you up to its end; there’s nothing jaw-dropping, but it fills in the laughs along its way.
Coogan celebrates Laurel as a man of never-ending material, always ready to lighten the mood, seemingly always for his benefit by staving off negativity. Reilly takes the showier (Golden Globe nominate-able) position with a hefty, hardy (lol) performer known for a big heart and likely dying from it. Even their wives, a balancing act to the weaknesses of each man, serve as comic gold in their very separate disillusions over their husbands’ careers. Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle) offers a lowkey, camera shy protector to a foolhardy Hardy (lol), and Nina Arianda (Florence Foster Jenkins) is a feisty Russian balm to the occasionally humorless comedian.
Coogan back with his Philomena writing partner Jeff Pope allows an easy passage through a choppy but very pleasant tribute to some amazing performers. The production was more captivating than expected; the opening scenes starts with a perfect frame followed by a well utilized tracking shot that presents the inception of the problems plaguing the duo. Enjoy an afternoon with Coogan and Reilly and Stan and Ollie.