Movie Review: Stan and Ollie

In 1937 Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were the number one comedy act and movie actors in the world. Unfortunately Laurel and Hardy were at the top during a time when movie companies like Paramount, Warner Brothers and MGM signed all of their actors to contracts and those contracts guaranteed that the company made a great majority of the money generated by the movies produced. But the actors and screenwriters never got a fair share of the money they generated from their talent and creativity. This kind of financial injustice meant that Laurel and Hardy both had constant money problems and had to travel on the road to make money all the way up to the year 1953 when they went on their last tour in England. This last tour in England represents about 80% of this film and it shows many of the acts they did on stage together before Oliver Hardy’s heart problems, brought on by his weight, forced the end of Laurel and Hardy’s long collaboration.

Amazingly, Stan Laurel was married 5 times and Oliver Hardy was married 3 times – and one can only guess that the reason for this were the long hours and traveling away from their many wives that was large part of their careers as world famous comedy performers. Laurel and Hardy made over 150 movies together and even after Hardy died in in 1957, Laurel continued to write movie scripts for both them up until his death in 1965, refusing to ever work with anyone else. Laurel and Hardy had their problems and arguments, one big one was depicted in this film, but this was inevitable due to so many years working together and the pressures of show business.

This movie stars John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy and Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and both are outstanding in their roles. John C. Reilly’s facial and body makeup to play Oliver Hardy was about as good as any makeup I have ever seen in any film. Reilly has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Oliver Hardy and he will also receive an Academy Award nomination as well. The Rotten Tomatoes reviews for Stan and Ollie are a very high 92% and I agree with this rating as well as strongly recommend this film.