Stan & Ollie

Coming to Cinemas 21 February 2019

The untold story of the world's greatest comedy act.

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly play comedy duo Laurel and Hardy in this biopic that covers the duo's 1953 British variety hall tour. Written by Oscar nominee Jeff Pope (Philomena).

"In 1953, several years after their last film and with their immense celebrity on the wane, Stan ‘Laurel’ and Ollie ‘Hardy’ embark on a gig tour of British seaside towns and music halls. Surprised by the modesty of the bookings and cramped little guesthouses, the tour starts off subdued. They struggle for audiences and their booking agent seems disinterested. But a series of TV guest spots and celebrity appearances soon rekindle the country’s interest in their genius and the buzz grows as they head towards a big London finale. As the attention builds, so too do old resentments, coming to a head as they’re joined by ‘the wives’, Lucille and Ida (Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda)" (London Film Festival).

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Directed by

Written by

Comedy, Drama, True Story & Biography, Historical

97mins

Rating: PG Coarse language

USA, UK, Canada

Director Jon S. Baird follows up the fabulously frenetic Filth with a decidedly more restrained, traditional biopic, following Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy’s (John C. Reilly) 1953 live stage tour of the UK. The former giants of screen comedy are growing old, their popularity waning, their bank accounts empty. Reunited after years apart, each bearing a grudge against the other for the split, they perform to near-empty theatres, hoping to secure funding for a comeback movie.

They begin touring purely for the money, but come to realise they’re really performing for the love of show over business. It’s a simple message, simply told. Long, theatrical takes allow the actors to perform in real time, highlighting their meticulously timed slapstick. So in synch, they’re as married to each other as their long-suffering wives, excellently played by Nina Arianda and Shirley Henderson, as partners caught in a constant double-act of their own.

Jeff Pope’s script cleverly incorporates some of the duo’s most famous routines into their life, from dropping a trunk down a flight of stairs, to squabbling over a hotel reception bell. Life and art are so entangled, when they fight at a party, the assembled guests laugh and clap, mistaking their bitter dispute for part of the act.

Lending life to the legends, Coogan and Reilly are a perfectly matched pair, with Reilly’s chubby, double-chinned make-up and prosthetics a seamless blend of art and artifice. Simultaneously sad, funny, melancholy and celebratory, it’s a superbly acted tale of the love of two comics for their craft and, against all odds, each other.

BBC

press

Stan & Ollie is a film you watch with a lump in your throat, but with a smile on your face.

Hollywood Reporter

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Even if it only occasionally provokes big laughs, this sweet, small film makes you smile most of the way through, which may be a more uncommon feat.

Screen International

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This is a fond, frequently very funny homage to an act that has lost none of its genius. A new generation of fans awaits.

The Guardian

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It has a persuasive feel for this twilight of the comedy gods.

The Telegraph (UK)

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It is eccentric, sad and stirring to the core. Oh yes - and incredibly funny, too.

The Times (UK)

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As the film cruises towards its conclusion it reaches genuinely sublime heights.

Variety (USA)

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If a couple of laboured gags around hauling luggage don't fully land, that rather proves how much more art went into Laurel and Hardy's craft than they ever chose to let on.