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Westside Steve

Stan and Ollie review

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Stan and Ollie
Sony Pictures classics
PG.                  97 min
Some of us baby boomers grew up in the Golden Age of television. Our parents were alive as the talking pictures swept the world and our grandparents silent features. Even before that there was Vaudeville and traveling shows. The reason that brief bit of History would be important to a boomer is that there wasn’t all that much programming available in the early days of television and to keep us kids occupied the television stations would show old cartoons, The Little Rascals oh, The Three Stooges and shorts by famous comic entities the Marx Brothers WC Fields and of course Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. STAN AND OLLIE takes place in the early 1950s after the popularity of the duo had started to fade. Contract disputes add a feud with producer Hal Roach had caused a rift between the boys and they are forced to accept a live tour of second-tier theaters in Great Britain and Ireland, performing their well known bits for nostalgia seeking audiences. Throughout the tour the carrot on the stick was an elusive promoter, supposedly putting together the financing for another Laurel and Hardy film. As those chances began to dim, Oliver Hardy’s financial situation and health are in decline. Cigarettes booze obesity and horse racing had taken their toll but the biggest ghost to haunt the duo dates back a couple of decades when during contract talks Hardy did they film without Laurel. Stanley felt betrayed and that festered under the surface for a long time. Still these men were more like brothers than business partners and in the end it was that unbreakable bond that provided a safe ending to a sometimes turbulent journey. 
I've come to expect an understated atmosphere with very little over the top histrionics from the BBC and that holds true here, and that approach seems to work perfectly with a period piece.  But make no mistake the performances of Steve Coogan and John C Reilly as Oliver and Hardy are among the best of the year and in my opinion both worthy of an Academy Award. Not only that but this biopic touched on things that the general public didn’t really know which makes it more interesting than most. 
This is one of the best films and two of the best performances of the year.

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