Stan & Ollie 1.0 stars

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Anxious to keep their flagging brand afloat, a pair of broken-down legends embark on a demanding tour through ramshackle England that turns out to be their last hurrah. If Hollywood makeup wizards can transform Christian Bale into Dick Cheney, an L&H makeover for Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly should be a snap. It is, and their finespun performances prove them to be superb casting choices. But while I’m all for a Laurel and Hardy biopic, why delve into this mournful period of their careers? Jeff Pope’s screenplay is a fine mess of expository dialogue that too frequently blurs the line between the artists and their art. And director Jon S. Baird is too in awe of his subjects to really pick at any scabs, most notably the duo’s alcoholism. More could have been gleaned by watching their rival wives, Mrs. Laurel (Nina Arianda) and Mrs. Hardy (Shirley Henderson), go at it than the flood of sentimental outpouring between the boys.

Scott Marks

Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Rated: PG

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