Opinion: Stan & Ollie brings wholesome entertainment, tells story of comedy duo

We’ve become so wound up in what is happening in our world today, we forget what it means to enjoy life and be happy throughout. Other times, we are entertained by things making us laugh, but even comedy has gone so far as to make fun of things not worth mentioning. We should not make fun of the world and its flaws. Instead, we should turn back time to the days where comedy had pace, timing and the occasional slapstick.

In the 20th Century, people enjoyed slapstick comedy, seeing an actor go through physical pain to create laughter. To this day, people try to bring back this style; however, they cannot hold a candle to the classics.  There have been many actors and teams who have created slapstick for a living; but, out of all those teams, there is one team that remains the greatest comedy duo of all time: Laurel and Hardy.

Formed in 1927, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have entertained audiences for more than eight decades making more than 100 films. This year, Sony Pictures Classic and BBC Films bring us the untold story of the world’s greatest double act in entertainment history as they embark on their final tour.

By 1937, Laurel and Hardy were the cream of the crop in the film industry, but even raving reviews did not stop them from doing things behind the scenes. Unfortunately, after 16 years they find their audiences and revenue staggering by the numbers. While they carry out their plan to make a motion picture, a spin off of Robin Hood, they decide to collect the money themselves while touring across the United Kingdom. With performances across the country, people are lining up at the box office to get their tickets; however, tensions rise between the pair. While Oliver, played by John C. Reilly, is struggling to keep up with his poor health, Stan, played by Steve Coogan, still carries a grudge from their past when Oliver did a motion picture with someone else. With these conflicts interfering with their career, people believe they should stop, or find some other partner to work with for a while, but for Laurel and Hardy, the show must go on.

Stan & Ollie is a representation of perseverance despite objections from the outside world. With so much conflict going on between the main characters, it appeared they were going to go their separate ways. The film shows how they overcome these conflicts and stick together through the rough patches of their career. This is a redundant theme in many films, mostly those involving a sport.

I have been a fan of classic comedy such as Abbott & Costello, The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers, but what amazes me is how it all started with Laurel & Hardy. They were among the first portraying slapstick, and they paved the way for other actors to perform in their style. Most of the time, a comedy you would watch on television requires a laugh track to help the audience understand what’s funny. With acts like Laurel & Hardy, you get genuine and wholesome laughter from all ages enjoying the comedy, and the material is well-laid out with the execution on point.

I love how Stan & Ollie pays homage to these actors and who they were behind the scenes. Unlike many films telling a true story, this film did not dramatize or exaggerate the facts about the people it portrays. It remained true to the historical figures and show audiences their true colors. The film gave a broad aspect of the duo but supplies the audience with enough to know what was going on with them at the time. Unfortunately, the film makes subtle transitions from the present to an event in the past. Though this gives the audience insight to the conflict between Stan and Ollie, it would be hard for some to understand what was going on to whom and if it applies to the story. Also, the pace of the story was a little slow for some to keep their eyes glued to the big screen. The film itself is wholesome and an utter delight, but the pace could be faster to become more appealing to the audience.

If Stan & Ollie receives any attention from audience members and critics alike, it should be for the chemistry between Coogan and Reilly as the comedic duo. I love how these two interacted with each other on and off the stage. The way the actors brought back these comedy legends was brilliant. I felt like I was not watching two actors play Laurel & Hardy, but the Laurel and Hardy themselves. The two of them gave as a critically acclaimed performance, and they have a history in film to back it up. Most of the other casts was unfamiliar to me, but all of them adapted to their characters and gave performances we will never forget.

If you look at the history of comedy, you’ll find no better example than the styles of Laurel and Hardy. Stan & Ollie is a must-see biographical film paying tribute to the comedic duo during their final tour. I enjoyed the performances of Coogan and Reilly, and I hope to see them in future projects. I am giving Stan & Ollie a rating of 7.5 out of 10, and I would recommend this as a film people should see if they are looking for a bit of laughter in their lives.


Featured image courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels

Edited by Grace Goodacre



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