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Steve Coogan – Stanley “Stan” Laurel
John C. Reilly – Oliver “Ollie” Hardy
Shirley Henderson – Lucille Hardy
Nina Arianda – Ida Kitaeva Laurel
Danny Huston – Hal Roach
Rufus Jones – Bernard Delfont
Have you ever seen a biopic where the producers couldn’t have used a better actor to play the leading story teller? (a-hem, Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady – incredible). That happens here with Stan & Ollie; Reilly appearing almost identical to Stan Laurel and Coogan an excellent casting as Oliver Hardy. They got the looks, they got the outfits, but did they got my attention?..
..abso fucking lutely. These two waddle through the film with a joyous air about them. Their body language and facial expressions are spot-on (Coogan doing a great job of Hardy’s thin-lipped smile and simple posture), they clearly did their research. This is transferred into very believable re-creation of Laurel & Hardy sketches, played out by Reilly and Coogan as they would be by the duo themselves. And with the back-up of an on-screen audience chuckling away at their comic antics on stage, the whole thing makes for a warming performance within a performance that is perfect for older viewers to get wrapped up in. This is nostalgia at its best, and I can almost guarantee those viewers will be smiling with familiarity during the hospital sketch.
Arianda and Henderson are a welcome addition to the cast, both equally special as the wives of the titular pair. In fact the women make a nice double act when the focus is off of the men, just by having their own moments. Although generally bearing the brunt of Stand and Ollie’s rocky relationship, Ida and Lucille take the stage and prove just as funny by dropping some great one-liners. Arianda had the audience roaring with laughter at one point; the woman bleeds sarcasm behind deadpan facial expressions and brings comedy of a style different to the males. She comes in to her own which makes a valuable element of the movie and ensures comic delivery never falters. Henderson is good – but in a more dramatic way. It’s a double double delight.
Fans of Laurel and Hardy won’t be disappointed.