The Screeners Are Coming – 2
More films are coming in my mail, and the trade magazines are getting heavier with all those bucks shoveled into the ‘race’. But there are, in the center of all this, some people putting their hearts and talents into films they hope will touch us – and not just win.
The Front Runner is large in size and very well made, packed with the energy of a race toward the presidency, with mobs of volunteers and reporters and a cast of fine actors that starts with Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga and J. K. Simmons and just keeps doling out exciting performances throughout the long list of players, with surprises like Alfred Molina and Kevin Pollak showing up to strengthen the authenticity of it all.
Through the speeches and strategies and the scandal and heartbreak, I kept hoping to be taken more deeply inside Gary Hart, but he’s not that kind of man. He buries his private life and lets no one in, and the filmmakers went with that, but in leaving me outside, they denied me the deepest feelings, left me out of the center of the struggle. All right, that’s their choice, and I applaud the talent, but I don’t carry the film with me after it ends.
Stan and Ollie is a much smaller film, exploring the last bits of an amazing comedy career and an amazing friendship. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly get Stan and Ollie so very right. They truly bring them back to us, and then allow us to step inside where we have never been, where the most famous comedy team in the world (in 1937) become older and human and flawed and still loving.
I think the people who will love this film the most are the ones who, at some time in their lives, loved Laurel and Hardy, and that was me between the ages of about eleven to fifteen when all of their shorts and movies were played heavily on TV. They had me on the floor, laughing to tears. Sure, I also laughed at Abbot and Costello and Martin and Lewis, but I didn’t love them. And I don’t care to watch those other teams today, but I’ll jump into a Laurel and Hardy routine any time. Right now.
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