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“Stan & Ollie” is a Sweet Ode to the Slapstick Duo

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Boasting a stellar visual replication of Laurel & Hardy with John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan in the roles is something special that Stan & Ollie doesn’t want to waste. You want to see them take on the legendary on-screen comedy duo in their numerous films to see how well they can embody the actors but you don’t want it to just be a series of retrospectives without much drama. You want the film to not shy away from their drama but you don’t want it to be too somber to waste the comedic potential. It is with great relief that I can state director Jon S. Baird has found a balance unique enough to be as robust as the duo’s act sustained itself over time.

A bold choice in time periods, most of the film takes place out of the glory days when the two actors were on top of the world. We see glimpses of their rise but the film is mostly interested in their twilight years of the 1950s. No longer major stars, they tour the country as a struggling comedy act, though they always seem to put maximum effort into their performances to small audiences. They still have their fans and they still have their knack for garnering laughs, constantly thinking up of new bits and dreaming up a new movie project for the two of them. They still move at the same speed, even if the world won’t move for them.

Reilly and Coogan have such ease to these roles that even if we don’t believe them fully as Laurel & Hardy, we buy them as real characters. Reilly all but disappears into the role of Oliver Hardy, looking larger than life with a big chin and behaving as kindly as a kitten with his waving of fingers and tie. Coogan is a delight as Stan Laurel with a smile to match and an effortless display of expressions. These two have not only gone out of their way to nail the look of these characters but also their act as it would’ve appeared on stage. Their comedy bits have been so greatly defined that they’re able to pull the usual routine off multiple times with the same audience-pleasing mannerisms.

What holds the film back from being all the more engaging is shying away from the drama. A lot of the darker aspects are glazed over just before things get too heated, from Laurel’s bitter stepping away from the studio come contract time to Hardy’s heart problems that threaten to end their comedy partnership. It’s addressed but never delved into deeper but there’s appropriateness that comes with its distancing. The film presents the two prolific actors as they like us to remember them best, more for the uproarious slapstick than the money shot of Hardy’s bad knee. We don’t need to see a vicious display of red flesh to get the idea; we can see the strain on his face and the desire to keep going. He’d rather be on a stage doing a hospital bit than remembered as the man who spent his final days in a hospital bed.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a lot missing from this tale of the final acts of the comedy team. But considering this is intentionally not telling their full story, leaving the lesser origins of their coupling in the background, the film succeeds at showcasing what happened to Laurel & Hardy when their names left the movie theater marquees. It’s also one of the finest biopic portrayals of 2018, where Coogan and Reilly are in forms so golden I almost wished they’d go ahead and finish that Robin Hood film that would’ve starred Laurel and Hardy. A brief dream sequence reveals what could’ve been and it’s a remarkably faithful vision of a 1950s adventure comedy, vivid and vivacious. Therein lies the film’s greatest achievement; leaving the audience wanting more, where the exuberance of Laurel & Hardy prove to be alive and well in these two accomplished actors.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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