One exciting thing about being in the UK (apart from better chocolate – you know Hershey’s has nothing on Cadbury’s) is that I can walk the same hallowed ground as comic geniuses Laurel and Hardy, a.k.a Stan & Ollie. That’s right, I’m crazy about those beautiful performers (read: every silent comedian) because every film of theirs is pure, unadulterated joy.
Suffice to say, then, that I’m really excited for the release of Stan & Ollie this December – after its premiere at London Film Festival in October, the trailer has just been revealed. For one thing, the casting looks fantastic. John C. Reilly (when not acting as parody sleuth Watson alongside Will Ferrell over the holiday season) is a brilliant screen presence, and I think this will play off well against Steve Coogan’s usually more deadpan persona. Reilly seems to pull off a convincing British accent and I can see that the two actors – not always paired together – somehow fitting right into place as a duo.
It’s also a poignant move that director Jon S. Baird and writer Jeff Pope have opted for taking the actors’ first names, separating them from the immutable title Laurel and Hardy. It humanizes them and allows us to take a look at their stories, remembering that they were men with real lives, too. I’m foreseeing a bit of a tearjerker, but it’ll no doubt be undercut by a heavy dose of slapstick comedy.
The trailer blends biopic with the conventions of silent films themselves, meaning that we’re in for the hallmark twist of comedy and pathos that have made silent movies so enduring. Rather like Chaplin’s Limelight, or even last year’s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, the biopic shows the comic duo on their last legs: embarking on their final Variety tour of Britain, they head towards their swansong and must prepare for the inevitable end of their partnership.
It’s clear from the trailer that it’s going to be an affecting, even melancholy take on the great pair, playing their partnership out as a creative marriage more than a friendship – there’s no doubt it’s going to be something special. Stan & Ollie will be released in theaters across NY and LA on December 28.