‘Stan & Ollie’ is bittersweet tribute to comedy duo

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It is easy to think back to the days of Laurel and Hardy and imagine the Panida showing films from their era.

Their career began in 1921 and the arrival of feature-length talkies in 1927 could have meant doom for the duo during the industry’s transition from silent films but they navigated the changing culture. While their career began before the opening of the Panida their films were still a part of the theater’s offerings and transition into the new talkie era.

“Stan & Ollie” gives us a trip back in time to the days of this legendary comedy duo at the twilight of their illustrious careers in their last act. This poignant film is brilliantly acted by John C. Reilly, as Oliver Hardy, and Steve Coogan, as Stan Laurel. The film focuses in on the two during a last-grasp musical hall tour of the United Kingdom in 1953.

It’s the story of a movie partnership, of two men who were, at one time, among the most loved people in the world — with the even greater distinction of being loved, in particular, by children. The world had assumed they retired on their riches but they hit the road for a last hooray.

The film comes back to a pivotal break through as we learn more and more about their rift and their lingering issues with one another.

“Stan & Ollie” brilliantly weaves into the storyline iconic moments of their humor and fans new and old will recognize the timeless comedy that has continued to be recognized by generations that followed.

It’s a bittersweet look back on past happiness and the inevitability of regret yet tender moments are shared as they are strapped for cash and trying to revive and recreate their comedy genius.

Humor, tenderness, and a reminder of what they brought to our lives is captured by Reilly and Coogan.

Laurel and Hardy would appear together in an astonishing 106 films of varying length between 1921 and 1951. The bulk of their output came in the years 1927 to 1938 as they moved from silent shorts to “talkie” shorts to sound features making their story a fun look back in time for what was happening at the Panida in its early years.

“Stan & Ollie” is more of a tribute to friendship and the professionalism of a past age. It carries a sweetness and dignity with warm performances. For Panida fans it reminds us of a part of our theater’s rich and varied history in the motion picture culture we work to preserve and protect.

“Stan & Ollie” is showing Thursday, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, at 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

The film has a soft PG rating (some language and smoking).

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