Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were an enormously successful comedy duo who were at their peak during the late 1920s through to the 1940s, so distinctive and popular they effectively became a brand.
Sadly, it was not a concept they fully understood and they found themselves strapped for cash and needing to tour at the waning end of their career. That’s where Jon S Baird’s biopic picks up their story.
Steve Coogan (Laurel) and John C Reilly (Hardy) each do brilliant portrayals, fully-embodying the roles. They have great on-screen rapport and can still raise laughs recreating old, original routines. The film is a lovely, nostalgic homage, with fine support performances from Rufus Jones as their promoter and especially Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda as the passive-aggressive wives who actually have some of the best comic moments together.
The film’s only flaw is that it doesn’t provide enough backstory to allow audiences to really grasp the level of fame and invest emotionally in the two leads. Still heartwarming, though.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich