Some of my most satisfying relationships have been with people I’ve worked with—teammates, if you will, in a common, perhaps even worthy purpose. That thought came to mind as I was enjoying the movie “Stan & Ollie” which focuses on the comedy pair’s declining years.
Steve Coogan plays the head-scratching Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly flexes his eyebrows as Oliver Hardy—a terrific job by both. The film uses Laurel and Hardy’s most successful years only to establish their deep friendship that Laurel allows to become embittered over contract issues.
Fast forward 16 years and the pair is struggling to draw big crowds while chasing an elusive movie deal. In one poignant moment, Laurel contemplates a billboard heralding a movie starring the up-and-coming Abbott and Costello comedy duo. His long-held resentment bubbles over in a public argument that many party-goers believe is only a bit of comedy. It isn’t. “You loved Laurel and Hardy,” says Ollie, “but you never loved me.”
This is a touching movie with many laughable moments. It’s a chance to, yes, again consider what made Laurel and Hardy so funny in simpler times, but more significantly, the importance of long-standing relationships.