Set back when Laurel and Hardy were known as one of the most talented comedy duos, this film shows us their work in Hollywood onscreen and on stage. Our film delivers both comedy and drama. Laurel and Hardy’s humour is created through a combination of dancing, singing & good old comedy slapstick. This film, however, focuses on sharing the true story of our leading stars trying to revamp their careers instead of still doing the same routine or receiving advertising deals to get by. We see them begin a tour of stage shows, currently with poor attendance. It turns out the two are becoming old and are no longer the latest leads in show business. Can the two take their careers to the next level and make a film after their tour?
Our leading actors Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly were fantastic in both the level of their performance and also the complete transformation they undergo in costume and makeup to match and honour the original stars. The makeup work alone will have viewers instantly forgetting who these actors are, in particular for John C. Reilly, who has a full body suit, face mask and the list goes on. Our two leading actors also worked so well together that I was surprised at how convincing they were as Laurel and Hardy. As an audience member, I found their onscreen friendship pleasant and touching to see.
Watching the story of Laurel and Hardy is also fun as it is set in early Hollywood, and I naturally found myself invested as well as appreciating how films were created in the early days. Today’s world of cinema is generally full of CGI and significant effects, but slapstick humour along with singing & dancing has become less and less common on screens today. It’s film like these that will remind a movie lover how back in the day people honestly had to be creative and couldn’t rely on a big budget with effects.
I haven’t had much experience with Laurel and Hardy films despite my passion for cinema. Naturally, after watching this film, I was encouraged and keen to know more about these two and their rock-solid friendship. Whenever the two characters were apart, the jokes never had the same strength, and as a film, I would say this is the same concept. When Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are away from one another, this film is just not as exciting.
As a plot, it is all fairly basic, and the runtime is quick. Our film doesn’t dive into details such as telling stores about their family or going back to tell stories about their childhood. The film is set in one era of their lives.
Overall, I didn’t know much about Laurel & Hardy even though I am a man who loves film, but I thought this film delivered outstanding (and surprising!) performances by Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly. I found myself rather enjoying this heartfelt tale about friendship, laughter and the dramas that can come your way. Even if you have no clue as to who Laurel and Hardy were, this film is still worth your time and effort.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden