Stan & Ollie (2019)

I recommend you see this movie, but with one caveat. It’s about one of the most famous comedy duos of told time, so you expect this to be highly comedic, right? That’s the wrong approach to this, go in expecting a drama and you’ll be fine. It took a while for me to adjust to that mindset, so for about half the film I was disappointed, then there was a scene in a hotel lobby of the two of them having an argument, a really heavy one. Not in terms of shouting and screaming, but in terms of the pure emotion on display. At that point a switch in my head was turned on and I got it. From that point on I enjoyed it a lot more. I get the feeling they used artistic license with history at some moments, but not too many. It seemed relatively honest. By which I mean it made them seem like dicks at times, it admitted they were not perfect individuals or ones who had just suffered misfortunes, but were in fact sometimes the cause of their own misfortunes. I like when biopics do that (for a great example of this, watch Get On Up, the film about James Brown which seems to veer from loving warm tales to a full-on character assassination depending what scene you’re watching).

I will admit to having never scene any Laurel And Hardy, but now I want to. I want to see how accurate their depictions are of them. I’ve heard people say they were spot on imitations, but I can’t really comment on that, all I can comment on really is the story, which was great. It was almost like a love story. Well, it is a relationship story, essentially. We see them at their best, and at their worst. When their wives join them it completely changes the interplay between them, for the better. The wives’ interactions with each other are delightful, in a cringey way. The pair throw pointed barbs at each other all the time, some subtle, some not, and they provide some of the best laughs of the film. It also provides the backdrop of one of the biggest heartwarming moments near the end. A moment which will make you think “oh no, don’t do that” but then be very glad they did.

The big downside is the pacing is a bit slow at times. And we’re not really shown enough background about them. But that is minor, this isn’t a film about Laurel and Hardy, this is a film about a very specific time period in their life. And that it does very well, you really get a feeling for how far they’ve fallen.

This film is very good, but it lacked that something that made it great. If it’s the best film I see all year I won’t consider this a good year, but if it’s the worst film I see all year then 2019 is going to be great.

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