Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy starred in more than 100 comedies together in the early half of the 20th century, and their creative relationship is examined in the charming biopic Stan and Ollie.
Steve Coogan takes on the role of Laurel and John C. Reilly, decked out in impressive makeup and prosthetics, plays Hardy; together they breathe warmth and humour into this modest and low-key film.
The story begins at a time when their careers are nearing the end, teaming up in 1953 for a live stage tour of the UK. It's been years since they performed together and the tour's been organised by Laurel in an attempt to attract funders for a comeback film. They find themselves staying in dives and playing to empty halls, but after a little publicity, they get the tour back on track.
It's hard work, and begins to take a toll on Hardy's health and their relationship, leading them to reflect on their lives together - their friendship and their working bond. It's a buddy movie, a love story and an examination of the complexities of creative relationships.
And it's only fair to mention Nina Arianda and Shirley Henderson, who play Laurel and Hardy's wives and are delightful and a double act of their own.
You don't have to be a huge fan of the duo's style of comedy; there are enough classic Laurel and Hardy gags for fans to enjoy, but not enough to agitate those less fond of slapstick.
This restraint permeates the film, found in the performances, handsome production and simplicity with which the story is told. It gives this story about a couple of comedy superstars on the downward leg of their careers a sense of authenticity.
Stan and Ollie is a film filled with warmth and love, as well as melancholy and reflection. It's a heartfelt, pleasant and moving tribute to two greats of an era past.
John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan
Jon S. Baird
PG (Coarse Language )
A modest but moving portrayal of friendship