Forget Will Ferrell. John C. Reilly has a new comedy partner in Jon S. Baird's Stan & Ollie, which tells of the prickly relationship between legendary comedy duo Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Hardy (Reilly) during a 1953 British tour. Critics are raving—and helping Reilly save face—giving the film a 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Four opinions:
- "One should never underestimate a charming duet between equally matched partners," writes Jason Zinoman at the New York Times, applauding Coogan and Reilly for "dynamite performances that capture the expressions and physicality of the star comedians without ever descending into caricature. They never strain for laughs but are consistently amusing."
- "Not enough can be said about Reilly and Coogan's astonishingly good performances, as they channel their famed characters with a perfect mix of affection, pluck, savvy and bittersweet emotion, as well as terrific comic timing and vocal mimcry"—in the process, "reminding us just how physically adept and uniquely funny these artists could be," Gary Goldstein writes at the Los Angeles Times.
- Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda also impress playing the comedians' wives "in a parallel, very verbal screwball comedy." They "are so great together, alternating between sisterly bonds and mutual aggravation, that they could easily host their own spinoff feature," writes Odie Henderson at RogerEbert.com. Still, "this film succeeds because it knows how to strike the right balance between laugh-out-loud comedy and quiet, effective drama."
- Helped by "a sharp and surprisingly poignant script," Stan & Ollie is "simply terrific—an understated but smartly told crowd-pleaser about the legendary comedy duo in their last act," as Lindsey Bahr puts it at the AP. "Coogan and Reilly are at the top of their game, truly disappearing into the icons they're playing," she adds. "And don't worry if you're only passingly familiar with Laurel and Hardy—their comedy is timeless."
(Another new movie with Reilly, Holmes and Watson
, is being savaged by critics