4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Nauseating Movie,
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This review is from: Stan - The acclaimed BBC drama telling the story of one of the greatest comedy duos of all time.... Laurel & Hardy [DVD] (DVD)
I'll start out by trying to be positive here. This film depicts Stan Laurel and Oliver "Babe" Hardy as old men reminiscing about their shared careers. In some of the camera shots the actors playing elderly Stan and Babe bear striking resemblance to the actual pair as they appeared later in life. That's a happy chance and it's the only measly happy thing I can summon to say about "Stan".
Lots of folks apparently like this film. This can only suggest that there has been an appetite amongst the public for a Laurel and Hardy biographical drama, and also, that the public generally knows next to nothing about the real lives of the two famous movie comics. For watching this wretched travesty of a film reveals less than nothing about those real lives. All it reveals is gross falsehood. The script writers knew nothing about their subjects. Whenever the script happens to touch on facts it distorts the facts. This film stinks. It stinks so bad it makes you want to wretch. I don't simply dislike this movie, I execrate it, I want every copy of it burnt, with wide scattering given the ashes.
I'm not going to criticize "Stan" point by point for it would take a lifetime to enumerate all the things that are horribly wrong about this biography. Every frame of this movie, twenty-four of them every second over the excruciatingly unendurable duration of the reeking film, is a lie. If you suffer a viewing of "Stan", simply repeat to yourself during the the course of it, over and over to soothe your pained eyes: "The opposite is true." You will always be right.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were great comics who worked together with profound mutual respect from the onset of their pairing. Stan was not an egotist, or a pathetic neurotic, or a hermit, or anything else that he is portrayed to be here. Oliver Hardy was anything but the sheepish dolt he's depicted to be in this script. Both men, by all knowledgeable accounts, were delightful personalities off-screen. Their private lives were arrayed, as are all our lives, with quotients of joy and sorrow. A good biographical picture could be made based on the facts of their lives. This film is based on something that rose up in the script writer's bowel.
I will parse one particular. Aging Babe Hardy, who had been variably chubby to fat since childhood, began dieting strenuously in 1956. Within months he got down to his ideal weight; he was not at all fat anymore; he was happy for that. Then, suddenly and sadly, Babe got very sick and dwindled down to a rail. So it's the Hardy of about 1955 that his hefty portrayer resembles in the film's 1957 death bed scenes, and so really those scenes are inaccurate too; Mister Hardy, at the very last, actually looked about opposite to what the actor looks like in the death bed.
Of course, typically only knowing him from his corpulent days in Hollywood films, the film's general audience would naturally expect a fat Hardy in this film. Viewers would tend simply to be baffled by a skinny Ollie. So I'll forgive the film makers their poetic license on this point. But that's all I'll forgive them. Their movie is an insult to two very fine fellows. In the introduction to his novel "Slapstick", Kurt Vonnegut called Arthur Stanley Jefferson and Norvell Hardy (Laurel and Hardy's birth names) "two angels of my time." Just so. Dear Stan and Babe deserve all love and gratitude for the unique and tremendous joy they brought to our world. They do not deserve this silly sensationalistic hatchet job. There is no excuse for the existence of this nauseating movie. Avoid it for what it is: filth.