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Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story
Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story
Actors: Steve Coogan, Jeremy Northam, Rob Brydon, Keeley Hawes, Shirley Henderson
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
R     2006     1hr 34min

Michael Winterbottom?s TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY is a rollicking, inventive adaptation of the notoriously unfilmable British comic novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, written by Laurence...  more »
     
     

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Movie Details

Actors: Steve Coogan, Jeremy Northam, Rob Brydon, Keeley Hawes, Shirley Henderson
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Creators: Andrew Eaton, Anita Overland, David M. Thompson, Henry Normal, Jeff Abberley, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Laurence Sterne
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
Studio: Hbo Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/11/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 34min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 5
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Doris H. from MIDLOTHIAN, VA
Reviewed on 2/24/2016...
I knew this was R rated but I didn't expect the sick sexual humor at the expense of a child actor. This happened at about 15 minutes into the movie and I stopped watching.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Barbara C. (woot) from FALLS CHURCH, VA
Reviewed on 3/9/2010...
This movie might be interesting to anyone who is not actually hoping to see a film based on the novel Tristram Shandy. As presented it is more about making the film than about the story itself. There actually is no film about Tristram Shandy. Since Tristram Shandy is a very odd book and probably deserves the frequently quoted description of being a book that could not be made into a film, this effort may actually be quite entertainng to many people.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Susan H. (SusanH) from FAIRMONT, WV
Reviewed on 1/24/2010...
As an Anglophile who adores all things British, all I can say is that it is 90 minutes I'll never get back. It may be more to other's tastes: a very dry, tongue-in-cheek, movie-within-a-movie, but I found it muddled and the actors' talents wasted. Perhaps I'm just missing the joke-I'm certainly sorry that I didn't like it. Maybe you will....
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Gretchen D. (Gretchendz) from ADA, MI
Reviewed on 9/1/2008...
Very strange and very funny.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Very different, and very funny
Michael J Edelman | Huntington Woods, MI USA | 04/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Forget most of what you've read about this movie. It is not postmodern, nor "Pythonesqe", nor any of the other adjectives I've read in user reviews. What it is is a very intelligent, and very different piece of filmmaking that is quite unlike anything you've ever seen. If I had to compare it to any movie in recent history, I'd say it's a bit like "Adaptation", but that film was crude and heavy handed in comparison to "Tristram Shandy". It's also a bit like "This Is Spinal Tap" in the deadpan way it presents some very silly parody.

Imagine a Merchant-Ivory costume drama in which the principal actor suddenly stops, turns to the camera, and tells a Groucho Marx story, And imagine that part way through an increasingly confusing narrative, that keeps movinng forward and back, in fits and starts, the camera abruptly pulls back, and we see a film being made.

From that point on, "Tristram" becomes the story of the attempt to make a film from a very difficult to film novel, with a very difficult cast. The lead hasn't read the book, and is consumed with petty jealosies concerning the main supporting actor. The producers don't want to put any more money into it. And it just gets sillier, and sillier- while never quite falling into slapstick.

In point of fact, as conditions around the film get sillier, the lives of the main characters become more complicated, and consumed by some very serious issues. And yet everything slowly comes togethers, a few people learn a few lessons, and a film is made... although no one seems to ber very pleased with the results. And then, as the credits are rolling, the two main actors are debating acting techniques, in what may be the funniest scene of the entire film.

So what we have here is a very complex film that requires close attention, and perhaps even a little knowledge of literature and history to get all the jokes. This is not simple minded slapstick, and those who prefer that sort of humor simply aren't going to get it. But for veiwers who bring with them the intelligence to apppreciate all the jokes and references, it delivers a very satisfying and laughter filled two hours."
Inspired modern classic
S. King | 03/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Brilliant modern take on an early novel. The director captures the premise of the novel: that life is chaos by setting the film in the past and present at once. Brilliant concept and execution. I didn't know what to expect, but thoroughly enjoyed the film and it's cleverness, it's inspired direction and editing and some stellar performances. A joy to watch."
"It was post-modern before there was a modern to be post abo
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"To fully appreciate Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, most viewers who haven't read the famous Laurence Stern novel upon which the film is loosely based, will at least need to have an idea of its concept. But I cannot envisage getting into this film with no foreknowledge of both the novel and Steve Coogan's irreverent brand of comedy.

The tone is light-hearted and witty, and the performances are very good, and the period induced first half is an absolute riot, but Michael Winterbottom's latest film might be a bit elitist for most, depending a little too much on parallels to the classic book's structure and the fashionable imprint of Coogan's celebrity. It all presupposes that you're part of the "in" club and familiar with the humor to actually get the joke.

Anyway, for those of us who appreciate films that impertinently skewer the classics of English Literature the Tristram Shandy is mostly a real treat. The film begins with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in makeup, arguing over the colour of Rob's teeth and whether Brydon's part is a "co-lead" or a supporting role.

Coogan is supposed to be the title character, which makes him, supposedly, the star of the picture, but as the story progresses, he becomes increasingly concerned that his star wattage is being taken away from him. But I digress - the first half of the movie involves Tristram's birth as the movie constantly flips backwards and forwards with his father (played by Coogan) trying to meticulously plan his conception, birth and life. Shirley Henderson does a marvelous turn here as a maid trying to get everyone to focus on the birth.

The movie then interrupts Sterne's narrative and switches to the story of the director (Jeremy Northam) shooting a film adaptation of the book, starring Coogan and Brydon. The production is plagued with problems - the period shoes aren't high enough, the costumes aren't quite the correct period, and there isn't enough money for the battle scenes.

The story ambles between scenes of the movie being shot, and scenes of the actors, director, writer, producers, wardrobe people and others involved in the production as they wrangle, flirt and drive each other crazy. Coogan is beset by a sycophantic journalist while being pressured to constantly attend to his lovely girlfriend Jenny (Kelly MacDonald), who has traveled to visit him over the weekend with their infant son.

Coogan's assistant Jennie (Naomie Harris) - a film nut and Fassbinder enthusiast - has a crush on him, and in one-instance, propositions him. The film is shot, then re-shot, with the costumers resorting to tears and the production assistants getting more frustrated and when the film is finally screened for a group of writers and producers, they all realize what a monumental failure they have on their hands.

Luckily American actress Gillian Anderson is available to save the day, and at the last moment gets hauled in for a romantic subplot playing the previously excised Widow Wadman. The film is very clever in its re-imagining of the novel and all the actors are superb with their improvisations and impeccable timing.

Depending on how you feel about Steve Coogan, you might find that his constant banter becomes a bit irritating after a while. Characters seem to come into the film, then leave at random never fully coming into focus. I would love to have seen much more of Gillian Anderson and Shirley Henderson - and even more of the sexy Jeremy Northam.

The film also employs various stylistic devices such split screens, sideswipes and closing irises and of course there's the film within a film concept which as been used before. As a film about the difficulty of making a film based on a book about the difficulty of writing a book, Tristram Shandy is pretty unique.

It's probably a bit of a stretch to call it one of the best movies of 2006 so far, but parts of it are entertaining and it certainly takes us though the coarse and stressed out tumult of the classics of literature and movie making, breaking down celebrity, and focusing on all the obsequious and the nastiness that goes along with it. Mike Leonard July 06.
"