This film resonated on so many levels that it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why I was bowled over. The final scene in Ireland showed the debt that Morecambe and Wise owed to them but there was so much more.
The pathos of comedians who’ve had their day but still retain the love and affection of an audience is famously spelt out with Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Bramble’s disastrous tour of Australia. Tony Hancock’s desire to prove he wasn’t just a vehicle for Ray Galton and Alan Simpson’s genius hastened the end of his career. John Osborne’s fictional character Archie Rice in the Entertainer further underlines the point.
Stan and Ollie however isn’t just this: it’s more, much more. The fragility of relying utterly on the ability of a partner produces an intensity only known inside marriage. They couldn’t live together and they couldn’t live apart. Their situation-specific humour depended entirely on rapport, empathy and shared beliefs. The film brilliantly explores their genius. Coogan and Reilly create the ultimate fiction that they are Stan and Ollie. Their film-wives are magnificent. As are the malign Hal Roach (Danny Huston) and the reptilian Bernard Delfont (Rufus Jones). Together they are supporting actors who give a canvass for Coogan and Reilly.
Stan and Ollie has everything you need for a wonderful cinema experience.
Why you should see this film: Laurel and Hardy is more than a biopic and it’s also fun
Why you shouldn’t see this film: The beginning is slow and there are elements of pathos which are a bit clunky.