Monday, 11 November 2019
It’s tempting to compare Stan & Ollie, the Laurel and Hardy biopic starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, to Richard Attenborough’s 1992 film Chaplin, but that would be unfair. The former doesn’t come close to the latter’s scope and scale, and — despite the incredible latex effects work that transforms John C. Reilly into a virtual facsimile of Oliver Hardy — Stan & Ollie never really felt like it was going to be Oscar-baiting material.
But it is a lovely, warm, occasionally moving film about the difficulties of professional friendships and the struggle to stay relevant in a changing world. It seems very strange to think that the time in which it takes place is only a generation removed from my own; my parents, had they been only a decade or so older, could have been in those meagre theatre audiences, a witness to the final shows of two living legends.
It also brought to mind the chapter entitled “Modern Times” from Alan Moore’s behemoth novel Jerusalem, wherein a young and unknown Charlie Chaplin, waiting to go on stage in Northampton, considers his place in the world and whether it’s possible for one to escape one’s origins. It’s the mirror-image to Stan & Ollie’s swansong; or perhaps poses a question that this film attempts to answer.