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Stan & Ollie – Review

Laurel and Hardy are history’s greatest double act. Their influence in comedy has bounced down through generations. People know their sketches. They quote the jokes. Children now are even shown their movies. Laurel and Hardy’s impact is one for the history books.

But their later years have yet to be explored. Now we’re treated to the glorious Stan & Ollie!

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Directed by Jon S. Baird (who also gave us the impeccable Filth,) Stan & Ollie revolves around the later years of the titular pair. As their star wanes, the pair head over the England to do a farewell tour across different venues. However, due to their declining popularity and problematic tour manager, the pair fail to sell out or make a splash. Due to previous issues with the pair and Hardy’s increasing health problems, there could be trouble with the tour. Can they survive their problems for one last swansong?

Steve Coogan is immense and intricate as British born Stan Laurel. His wide-eyed antics movies with a constant sorrow and utmost dedication to his partner Ollie. Coogan captures the admiration from Laurel but also the heartbreak he suffered and the sheer enormous comedy  genius that he was. Coogan inhibits all and produces an empathic and glorious performances that will be utterly remembered.

John C. Reilly is fantastic as Hardy. His laboured movements to his bigger than life personality is well-realised. Also his health – Reilly definitely crafts Hardy with the weight of Hardy’s decline that is pushed beyond his limits. The two together are fantastic. Perfect even. I can’t think of anyone who could create and embellish these roles in the way Coogan and Reilly do. Their chemistry is phenomenal and, at times, you think you are watching Stan and Ollie themselves. It’s an accomplished film pairing.

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Reilly and Coogan are matched as a double act by Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda as their wives respectively. The pair have their own snipes and jokes together but also they add dimensions to their husbands Stan and Ollie. Henderson is a safe bet to produce a character with quiet sensitivity but Arianda steals the scenes that she is in.

Baird injects a constant humour to the pair off screens. Scenes such as carrying a large trunk up a huge flight of stairs or checking into a hotel mirror classic Laurel & Hardy sketches. Adding a great deal of intimacy to the film and bringing this glorious era to life, this beautiful looking film is lovingly handled by a director who knows his source material and knows the men he is bringing to life on the big screen. It’s just absolutely lovely.

That’s not a bad thing. Films that are simply lovely. It’s nice to see a movie about a icons that doesn’t dissolve into outrageous or lewd acts. Obviously tortured artists aren’t necessarily bad but the focus here is just an unbridled love between two men. An enduring friendship, a forever double act, a story of two icons – Stan & Ollie is absolutely the perfect tribute.

Stan & Ollie is January 11

Ideal Home – Review

Every so often you come across a film that has all the right components and the possibility to be incredible only for the final product to fall at the last hurdle.

Ideal Home, starring Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan, is that type of film.

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Ideal Home revolves around Erasmus Bramble, an eccentric food TV presenter and Paul Morgan, his exasperated director and real-life partner who live life on the rolling orange hills of Santa Fe. Despite their constant bickering, the pair seemingly live an idyllic life. Of course, that goes completely to shit when Erasmus’ estranged grandson Bill turns up on his doorstep after his father is locked up. The 10 year old struggles to fit in and the couple find their world turned upside. Can the trio find a way to live with one another?

I mean – I don’t mean to do a spoiler alert here – but, yeah, of course. Ideal Home certainly treads all the familiar waters and doesn’t iprove on the couple comedy genre. We’re kind of at an impasse here, aren’t we? Because whilst it’s great that bog-standard movies are coming out around all types of relationships, we certainly should be demanding better quality. What’s more irritating is that Ideal Home shows promise but falters in it’s uneven development of a premise.

It’s frustrating.  Ideal Home  doesn’t know what type of film it wants to be in terms of comedy. It dabbles with the usual comedy fare, some slapstick type moments, and even some right black humour. But these different parts don’t gel well, especially against the underdeveloped drama. Whilst there are some moments that work incredible, the rest simply falls flat.

The performances are completely uneven against one another. Steve Coogan is completely peacocking and fails to deliver the comedic gold he is used too. Instead of his flamboyancy feels stereotypical and doesn’t quite fit into the nature of the film. However, Paul Rudd as the more muted Paul is really good. He taps into something completely wonderful here and emotes his character greatly. Rudd flits between a man unwilling to raise a child but slowly turning and warming to Bill. Jack Gore is great as Bill and the pairing truly works.

Side note: Why hire Allison Pill for two scenes? It makes no sense.

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There is material here and, in instances few and far between, it works. The sentimental elements develop greatly towards the end and cause you to care about this mismatched trio taking on a whole new adventure together. The humour doesn’t entirely work and some of the comedy moments falls very flat on familiarity.

Rudd does pull Ideal Home out of the gutter, giving it some sturdy foundations and building quite average movie.

There is a bonus credit sequence to showcase same-sex couples and that is really special. (Though it does underline exactly what could’ve been cultivated throughout the film. ((It is really sweet thought.)))

Ideal Home is out now!