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Stan & Ollie PG rating

Steve Coogan and John C Reilly give delightfully bang-on-target performances as comedy’s most famous double act as they enter their twilight years.

Biopic 2018 98 mins

Director: Jon S. Baird



In 1953, several years after their last film and with their immense celebrity on the wane, Stan ‘Laurel’ and Ollie ‘Hardy’ embark on a gig tour of British seaside towns and music halls. Surprised by the modesty of the bookings and cramped little guesthouses, the tour starts off subdued. They struggle for audiences and their booking agent seems disinterested. But a series of TV guest spots and celebrity appearances soon rekindle the country’s interest in their genius and the buzz grows as they head towards a big London finale. As the attention builds, so too do old resentments, coming to a head as they’re joined by ‘the wives’, Lucille and Ida (Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda, a hilarious double act in their own right).

Coogan and Reilly fans know their brilliance as physical comedians, but to watch them here is a revelation; they nail body language, mannerisms and also routines the duo would have known in their sleep after decades performing together. Craft is sublime throughout, crystallised in an audacious opening with each department dazzling in a six-minute tracking sequence captured by Laurie Rose’s camera team. Director Jon S Baird (Filth), screenwriter Jeff Pope (Philomena) and producer Faye Ward (Wild Rose) offer a poignant study of lifelong male friendship and a fitting tribute to two of cinema’s comedy giants.