Stan & Ollie is a wonderful portrayal of the friendship between the comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. This is not a standard biopic, eschewing the pair’s rise to worldwide fame and instead focusing on a grueling UK stage tour long after their peak. The whole endeavour relies upon the performances of Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, filled with warmth and the weight of such a long-running partnership, as well as being brilliantly observed as the actors recreate a number of the duo’s classic acts. It would be easy to overplay the emotional moments between two performers who were, by their nature, larger than life — what makes the film so moving is knowing when understated subtlety is more effective.
Although this is ostensibly the first time I have watched Mean Girls, as a child of the Internet I have been exposed essentially to the entire movie in memefied form. Rooted firmly in the early 2000s, with a high school experience likely unreconisable to teens now — from three-way calls on landlines to the complete absence of social media — its satire of high school cliques and the elevation of shallow idiocy has aged surprisingly well. The best visual moments are Cady’s visions of her peers acting like prehistoric primates in a way that shows human adolescence in its truest form — chattering chimps, fearful and desperate to fit in. Meanwhile, the film’s continuing quotability comes from Tina Fey’s ear for teenage dialogue that is simultaneously ridiculous but believeable. What nearly undermines Mean Girls entirely is its denouement, which abandons comedy in favour of tritely traditional teen movie resolution through a handful of speeches. Tina Fey’s script wants us not only to empathise with, but to like these characters, despite minimal consequence or growth from the pain each has caused. That, like ‘fetch’, is not going to happen. Ironically it is this failure to treat her characters sufficiently meanly which almost torpedos Mean Girls in its final act, though it is not enough to undo all that precedes it.