Jon S. Baird directs John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan and Nina Arianda in this biopic looking at the legendary slapstick comedy duo as they slum it through a final tour of UK.
Sweet, funny but mechanical in its manipulations. Reilly is fantastic as Babe, the make-up pleasingly lacks that rubbery obviousness of Oldman’s Churchill last year. Coogan isn’t quite as convincing as Stan Laurel but hits the right note when he is mimicking the on-stage comedy persona. Both wives (Arianda and Shirley Henderson) prove vital to us understanding their personalities and get as many laughs themselves. The film itself is generally unchallenging, a mid afternoon love letter to comedy icons you already adore. Soooo… the reality of their final days together are a little grimmer, less triumphant. You don’t mind them getting a happier ending when they still continue to spread so much joy with their brilliant cinematic legacy. But equally the imagined conflict that arises between them seems in bad taste. If there was real life resentment between the pair it was uncharacteristic to the personalities they, and even this film, presented. So to lob it like a hand grenade into the third act for a bit of tension feels like a betrayal. Especially one as fluffy and undemanding as this is in the main. At its best though, Stan and Ollie makes you hanker to open up that L&H boxset and get your Laughing Gravy on again.