Stan & Ollie Needed a (Script) Fluffer

I wrote a play about five years ago about a conversation between two old friends. Feedback repeatedly came back that I needed to move the conflict sooner in the script. Stubbornly, I held fast until recently and Stan & Ollie‘s led weighted script is definitely a good slapstick kick in the arse to that same point.

What could have been a blockbuster; poignant friendship between to men starring two outstanding actors, ends up stumbling and fumbling as much as the real pair’s schtick use to include.

I couldn’t help but feel for Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, titans in my list for Philomena (and Jeff Pope helped write that AND this??? A mystery.), The Trip (the former) and Magnolia and Chicago (the latter). They had to have loudly gulped at the script which leaves out ‘coulda been scenes, LIKE:

what about sailing with a bevy of actresses?
what about Stan’s drinking or Oliver’s gambling?
or either’s failed relationships?

In all three circumstances we’re told the information instead of shown. Instead, we’re smothered entirely by their vaudeville scenes and hotel rooms, and even the music which seems cloistered.

One character who could have been written at least with some charisma is their manager, who again limps through bland writing without leaving a mark.

Ok, so it did receive a Rotten Tomatoes 92% so let’s switch hats to the positive, a la Nicki Minaj, and say, “Myley, what’s good?”

The make up and superior acting of the two male leads are certainly worth seeing. The scene where Stan visits Ollie in his post heart attack bed, and blathers on about a new bit where Ollie cries, is projecting Stan’s deep feelings for his friend. Here, Coogan’s watery eyes made the movie soar to Oscar worthy, again, had that type of depth or visual been allowed in the film’s entirety. Likewise the actresses who portrayed their wives were very good. Had they been able to let loose a little more in their scenes (Nina Arianda as Stan’s fiercely independent Russian wife and Shirley Henderson as Ollie’s straight out of central casting 50’s wife) the movie would have been livelier.

So what we’re left with is a semi boring movie with a halcyon look back at two vaudeville originals. Stan & Ollie deserved better, as did Steve and John.

Why the lobster screams: The Lobster

I pulled an Anomalisa with The Lobster, expectations being through the ceiling. I mean John C. Reilly in a bitter satire about couples and the single shaming that occasionally happens to me? I hadn’t heard ‘smug marrieds’ since the original Bridget Jones Diary book (the movies look like schlock) and I was ready for action and laughs.

But oh Yorgus Lanthimos, is it your name that makes you so damn sad? As lonely as I am some days, I’m never The Lobster lonely! Maybe I’m misremembering Dogtooth, maybe that was equally dismal, yet I gave you a pass because I was with a person who’s company I enjoyed. Or maybe because Dogtooth was so different than any other movie I had seen. Certainly there must be a story in your past about being hit in the nose with blunt force (NOT a spoiler, trust me).

But on the positive side, the actors were all amazing. Colin Farrel, who normally plays a tough Irish lad (except for the mermaid movie which I didn’t think i could take), actually played a pudgy, rejected fragile man. Rachel Weisz also was virtually unrecognizable (a poor mans Julianna Marguelis-spelling to be checked later) as Colin’s last attempt at love. And John C Reilly, he might be the most lovable actor of all time. Yo just want to give the guy a hug and make him feel better. He’s the guy in the movie we feel the most empathy for, whether it be Magnolia or Step Brothers.

The movie had the right idea, coincidentally the same idea I had in a ten minute play two man play I wrote called “Matt Ramoney”, but my play didn’t send anyone of the 25 people who watched it in to a deep depression. Goodness Yorgus, lighten up. Though I now know why the lobster screams!