Stan & Ollie (2018)

Director: Jon S Baird

Writer: Jeff Pope (Screenplay)

Starring: John C Reilly, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston, Stephanie Hyam, Nina Arianda

 

Plot: Laurel and Hardy, the world’s most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song – a grueling theatre tour of post-war Britain.


Tagline – The untold story of the world’s greatest comedy act.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Comical Delight

 

Story: Stan & Ollie starts as we learn how Laurel (Coogan) and Hardy (Reilly) were the biggest comedy act in the world, they conquered countries across the world with their routines, only their contracts weren’t on a par with fellow greats of the time Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. In a rash decision Laurel tries to get a bigger deal leading to him needing to find a new studio, the pair break up.

15 years later, the careers for both men haven’t gone well, but reunited for a reunion tour of Britain and the hopes of a movie together, the friendship the men had is shown in a new light with regrets coming to light about decisions they both made through their career.

 

 

Thoughts on Stan & Ollie

 

Characters – Stan Laurel is one half of the comedy duo, he writes the material, plans more and demands more back for his work, he tires to help the duo get better pay, which only sees the partnership end, he is the one trying to work on the movie script and you can see how much being original meant to him. Oliver Hardy is the big man of the duo, he had gambling problems and like Stan they both had women problems rising to the top. He was left in a difficult position by Stan tied to a contract, but will use the tour to make up for lost time between the two friends. Lucille is the wife of Oliver who has been caring for him since the break up of the act, she is always concerned about his health, while getting tired of hearing Ida’s stories. Ida is the Russian wife of Stan who sees herself as a movie star, she seems to enjoy the spotlight more than Lucille and will play along with any act she can.

PerformancesJohn C Reilly and Steve Coogan are perfect in these roles, they show the chemistry the two can have which you feel the real partnership had. They hit the funny lines and the emotional lines showing us just how the two are two of the best comedy acts in acting today. Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda both give us wonderful supporting performances showing the concern and confidence their characters required.

StoryThe story here follows the reunion of Laurel & Hardy as they embark on a tour of Britain in hopes of securing a movie deal. This is a different type of story than you would expect from a biopic because, we start with the pair on top of the world and see nothing of their rise to the top. We see what caused the break up and how over the years it has been held in by the two men who were both helpless in the situation. The one thing the pair never lost though, was their chemistry and they wowed audience across Britain in what turned out to be their farewell tour. We do see many biopic which show all the highlights of the subject’s career, this showed what happened afterwards which felt like a breath of fresh air in the biopic heavy world we have at the moment.

Biopic/ComedyThe shows us how Laurel & Hardy remained big household names even after their stars had faded, they became the duo people looked up to and always were willing to give a joke out. This does only show their farewell tour though which showed they could perform on front of any sized audience.

SettingsThe film takes the duo across the UK, each setting feels authentic to their performances in the post-war Britain and as the performance went on the venues got bigger.


Scene of the Movie –
The routines.

That Moment That Annoyed Me If you did want to see their great work, you will not be seeing any of that here.

Final ThoughtsThis is a delightful film and one that could easily be enjoyed by all, it has two perfect performances from the leads and will leave you in tears and smiles.

 

Overall: One of the best biopics you will see.

Rating

 

 

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Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Nicholas Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend, Allan Corduner

 

Plot: The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Believe Your Dreams

 

Story: Florence Foster Jenkins starts in 1944 as Florence (Streep) performs alongside her husband St Clair Bayfield (Grant) with the theatrical performance for the people of New York City. After Florence falls out with her current pianist the couple must find a new one, Cosme McMoon (Helberg) fills the void perfectly as her new venture into opera.

There is one big problem with this dream, Florence simply can’t sing and even with her vocal coach Carlo Edwards (Haig) any stage performance is a distant dream. Once the first show happens the elite of the friends all love the show for the wrong reasons, and to make matter worse St Clair has been having an affair with Kathleen (Ferguson).

Once Florence’s song make the radio she continues wanting to support the soldiers returning from war even with St Clair wanting to hold her back from the embarrassment she could cause herself.

 

Thoughts on Florence Foster Jenkins

 

Characters/PerformanceFlorence is a woman that has been shielded from the world for her whole life, she has only been respected by her power in society. When she wants to sing her own style of opera she does become a laughing stock but on a level where the everyday man can enjoy her attempts. St Clair is the supportive husband who also hasn’t lived his dreams but living off the money Florence is giving him, he happily cheats on her but knows the funds will end if he gets caught. Mr McMoon is the brilliant pianist who is grateful for the chance to play alongside the high society but questions where his career could go after working with Florence.

Performance wise, Meryl Streep was fantastic as always in the leading role with Hugh Grant giving us one of his best performances in years. Simon Helberg steps up from television to give us a performance we all know he is capable off and never looks out of place next to the bigger names.

StoryThe story shows us what it is like to follow your dreams even if you don’t have the talent, while this does focus a lot more on the idea of being protected by the lack of talent it is the similar style you would treat your own child who enjoys something they are not going to succeed at. I do feel the story shows the divide we once had between the rich and powerful to the everyday person which is clear to see with how the music is received.

Biography/Comedy/MusicFlorence is an incredible brave lady who showed if you want to try something at any age you can try, even if you are not the best. The comedy in this film is light hearted throughout which I did enjoy with the music adding to the comedy going on through the film.

SettingsThe settings created show us the time period the film is set in perfectly with New York being the main location.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable movie that people can get a laugh out of without being stuck wondering what is going on or not admiring Florence.

 

Overall: One to be watched and enjoyed.

Rating