REVIEW A real masterclass of acting from Steve Coogan in Stan and Ollie - a fitting tribute to a legendary duo

PUBLISHED: 10:54 11 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:54 11 February 2019

Stan and Ollie is showing at Saffron Screen

Stan and Ollie is showing at Saffron Screen

Aimee Spinks

Starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly in the title roles, this film from Scottish director Jon S Baird tells the story of the final tour of comedy double act Laurel and Hardy.

Starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly in the title roles, this film from Scottish director Jon S Baird tells the story of the final tour of comedy double act Laurel and Hardy.

Instead of focusing on the famous duo’s heyday, writer Jeff Pope chooses to tell the story of a post war theatre tour of the UK that was to become the pair’s swan song.

With their golden era well behind them and the promise of a new movie on the horizon, the pair embark on a variety hall tour of Britain and Ireland.

But with Ollie’s wavering health becoming a problem and the pair’s bickering wives along for the ride, completing the tour proves anything but a formality.

Fans of Laurel and Hardy’s work may be slightly disappointed to find this isn’t a crowd pleasing run through their greatest hits, a la Bohemian Rhapsody. Instead, this is a rather touching character piece, which goes much deeper behind the scenes and explores the complicated relationship between two comedy greats who spent many years performing together.

John C Reilly is excellent as man mountain Oliver ‘Babe’ Hardy, carrying the character’s size believably and embodying the desperation of a man whose gambling habit is beginning to take hold.

The star of the show however, is undoubtedly Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel.

The brains behind the paring, his relationship with ‘Babe’ is a complicated one as he still harbours resentment towards his partner and blames him for holding them back when their stock was high.

Coogan, predominantly a comedy performer, is absolutely outstanding in the role. Not only does he mimic the comedian’s every tic superbly, he also delivers great emotional heft during the film’s more poignant moments.

Rightfully nominated for best actor at the BAFTAs it is utterly astounding how he failed to gain an Oscar nomination for this performance.

Rufus Jones lends support in the form of promoter Bernard Delfont, while Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda provide some of the film’s funniest moments as the duo’s supportive wives.

Stan and Ollie has a sad melancholy tone throughout, but director Baird delivers a moving study of the pair’s friendship and the love they had for one another.

Featuring a real masterclass of acting from Steve Coogan, the film is a fitting tribute to a legendary comedy partnership and their triumphant farewell tour.

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