Last night, my boyfriend and I went to see the film Stan & Ollie. This recently released bromance chronicles the famous slapstick comedy duo Laurel and Hardy as they grapple with the changing face of entertainment in the 1950s. The movie was a heartwarming and sweet tribute to this friendship. Urban dictionary‘s top definition of “bromance” is “the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males.” It is a great word that has really filled the void in modern discourse. While I can’t say for certain whether the real men Stan and Ollie were in a bromance, the movie certainly depicts a loving relationship that seems to align well with the modern ideas surrounding the blended terms “bro” and “romance”. Theirs is not a pretentious friendship between males, but rather a platonic love brimming with honesty and strain.
The film tugged at the heartstrings as it chronicled the complicated friendship of two entertainers as their life work became less relevant to the world of entertainment and increasingly difficult to continue as they aged. In a culture that obsesses over romantic love, the intimacy and important of platonic friendship or even just relationship is often undervalued. The two men experience the highs and lows of the entertainment industry from the 1920s to the 1950s, the start and end of multiple relationships and marriages, and the passing of many years working on the same team. They experience professional and personal conflict, under-value one another, and find ways to come back together for their characters and the friendship that grew from those characters. A melancholy tone to the film, I was reminded that nothing lasts forever, and certainly not without transformation.
My boyfriend and I spent the evening discussing the movie and our surprise at the poignancy of the film and the feelings that followed. I did feel at times that the movie fell flat, with periods of slowness that might not be ideal for the average viewer. However, as a love note to Hollywood and its golden era, I can see why critics are quick to show the love.
Stan & Ollie serves as a heartfelt ode to the relationship and life cycle of this famous duo, full of all of the human failings, complications and hurt feelings that any love story worth a whistle contains. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly were great in their respective roles, paying homage to the characters as they were understood- Laurel as a serious writer and Hardy as his pleasure-seeking associate.
This morning I read quickly over some reviews to find similar opinions to mine. They movie was not great, but it was poignant and somehow meaningful. There is something to be gained in watching and in absorbing the story. And, even more so perhaps, there is something to be gained in reconnecting with deeper roots of entertainment and asking ourselves how our entertainment has changed, how it hasn’t, and why. The slapstick comedy of Laurel and Hardy may not be the norms of 2019, but it is still funny. I surprised myself throughout the movie, finding myself giggling along with a silly skit or a ridiculous bit. It was fun, and that is why we go to the movies, the theater, etc. We go to have fun and to lose ourselves for a bit. And, despite any complaints about the film I may have, I did have the chance to lose myself for just a little bit.