review

'Stan & Ollie': long may they be remembered

Onze score

Have we forgotten about Laurel and Hardy over the past few years? If we have, how stupid to deny ourselves their timeless antics? Stan & Ollie brings the duo back into the spotlight.

You should certainly check whether we are not exaggerating in our praise of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. But be warned: it is much easier to start watching The Music Box, Tit for Tat, or Big Business than it is to stop watching. The comic duo’s heyday was 90 years ago, but their comedy and teamwork are timeless.

The only condition for loving them is that you like slapstick: people hitting each other with ladders, pushing pies into each other’s faces, or poking their fingers into other people’s ears, nose, and eyes. Laurel and Hardy were exceptionally good at letting everyday tasks get completely out of hand and descending into chaos, destruction, and anarchy.

The film Stan & Ollie sketches the relationship and personalities of the legendary duo by telling us about their music hall tour across England and Ireland in 1953. Their glory days are over, they can’t manage to get a new film off the ground, solo careers were a flop, their friendship has suffered, the theatres are only half full, and their health is declining. But despite all that, they go onstage, do their tricks, and make their audiences laugh.

Stars Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly do not make fools of themselves with an imitation of the humour of Laurel and Hardy but attempt to reveal the people behind the legend. The film is tender, polished, and audience-friendly, but it also allows a touch of melancholy. At the end, you will wipe away a tear, and it won’t be because you were laughing so hard.

In many respects, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were polar opposites, the Fat One and the Thin One, but they found one another in the sweat, pain, flair, craft, and the privilege of cheering up their audiences. They did so with slapstick and one-liners, but also with synchronized dances that were as ridiculous as they were hilarious. Long may they be remembered.

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