When arriving at my lovely suburban home, with my mom, following an advanced screening of Stan & Ollie, she disappeared, out of the blue, into the depths of our quaint little household. Following a few minute after her modest disappearance, she arrived back with a postcard, one of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, on stage, presenting during one of their many comedic tours. I chuckled at the postcard. It was pure nostalgia at its finest. The resemblance of a time period long forgotten, which many of we who were unfortunate enough to be born past that era, envy those older than us, who had the opportunity to witness the aesthetic and riveting essence of a particular time period.
First and foremost, Stan & Ollie is a tribute, a pretty damn great one at that. Sharing it’s wild final touring of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Stan & Ollie perfectly encapsulates the joy of an era. From the colorful visual palette, to the quippy dialogue, the film always keeps the ball rolling, in terms of setting an appropriate homage. All of the film’s technical merits, such as Production Design, Costumes, and Makeup, all perfectly suited the depiction of the era, where the amount of attention and care put into said designs worked amusingly well in unison. Not to mention the obvious outlier, the performances. John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan were perfectly cast in their respective rolls, giving plenty of levity and charisma, to what are essentially characters of broken people on the verge of retirement. Coogan and Reilly are the soul of this film. Without them, it wouldn’t be nearly as great as it was.
Stan & Ollie is a story of friendship, and the compassion between a dynamic so strong, that sometimes, you don’t know when a relationship could break. As cliche’d as the film may sound, Stan & Ollie rigorous tale is a digestible one, and albeit it’s predictable direction and overused story beats, the film’s message still works regardless. You’ll laugh, you’ll dance, you’ll maybe even just cry.
For what it’s worth, Stan & Ollie is delightful, charming entertainment. By no means does it break any records, or even tries to make something artistically immaculate for that matter. It’s a solid piece of work that will enchant both the young and old. The film should be considered as a prime example on how use Nostalgia correctly on film. It doesn’t pander, it doesn’t meander in endless sequences of nonsense. It’s a film with a story, a timeless one, that understands the influences and culture of short forsaken era.
The postcard of Stan and Oliver rests now on my shelf, where I can look at it every day, and feel a little bit more inspired.
Stan & Ollie opens in select Canadian Theaters on January 19th