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Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

tomatometer

90

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 123
Fresh: 111 | Rotten: 12

Though Laurence Sterne's novel was considered more or less impossible to successfully adapt to film, director Michael Winterbottom has done it in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, by making movie about the making of the movie. Stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon add madcap, knowing performances to the mix, and the result is a fun, postmodern romp, before there was any modern romp to post.

95

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 37
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 2

Though Laurence Sterne's novel was considered more or less impossible to successfully adapt to film, director Michael Winterbottom has done it in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, by making movie about the making of the movie. Stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon add madcap, knowing performances to the mix, and the result is a fun, postmodern romp, before there was any modern romp to post.

audience

66

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 22,469

My Rating

Movie Info

A group of actors and filmmakers set out to adapt an "unfilmable" classic novel -- but find that their own petty concerns get in the way -- in this satirical comedy. Laurence Sterne's 18th century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman told the story of its priggish title character from the moment of conception onward, with a bevy of digressions, distractions, and unfinished anecdotes. In adapting the work for the screen, director Michael Winterbottom chose to stay true to its

R,

Sports & Fitness, Comedy

Martin Hardy

Jul 11, 2006

$1.1M

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All Critics (131) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (111) | Rotten (12) | DVD (10)

Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story is a hall of mirrors that doesn't tease the brain (it's easier to watch than to read about) so much as goose it into submission.

May 12, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Michael Winterbottom's] goofy, messy version of Tristram Shandy puts the Fellini back in 'Fellini-esque.'

March 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A wildly imaginative foray into spirited comic anarchy.

March 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A Cock and Bull Story is a grand giggle of a film, well worth your time and money and a game well played for the audience.

March 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A hilariously clever picture about the making of a movie that no one will have the slightest interest in. For an experiment about an experiment, it's entirely too much fun.

March 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Probably the best-known but-I-digress novel in English literature, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, has inspired Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, surely the best but-I-digress movie this side of Adaptation.

March 2, 2006 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stands alongside -- if not above -- Adaptation as one of the best films about the process.

November 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine Australasia
Empire Magazine Australasia

A typically rambling, freewheeling effort from Michael Winterbottom...

June 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Director Michael Winterbottom may not have proved that you can film this unfilmable book, but he definitely proved he can film a funny movie about trying to film it.

October 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

Coogan and Brydon make a beautiful squabbling couple

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

Equal parts literature and lunacy.

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source: BrandonFibbs.com
BrandonFibbs.com

For those who can appreciate the movie's ironic, self-referential nature, this is a thoroughly engaging, near-brilliant comedy.

July 10, 2007 Full Review Source: DVD Review
DVD Review

If you go into this movie expecting a traditional narrative tale, you may get discouraged. You have to throw away your expectations and sit back and wait to see what happens ... if anything.

April 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinematical
Cinematical

A successful mix of literary adaptation, meta-fictional discourse and inside-showbiz comedy. Both funny and clever.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

[O]ne of the cleverest deconstructions and modernizations of a work of classic literature cinema has ever achieved...

November 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

...Preposterously funny, perpetually inventive, implausibly successful...

November 11, 2006 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

Adventurous, ambitious and downright quirky, this will appeal to those who revel in more than a little bite in their humour.

June 21, 2006 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

un film dont on se délecte autant pour la redoutable intelligence de son récit et le côté fêlé de sa structure narrative que pour son humour aussi mordant que désopilant

June 5, 2006 Full Review Source: Panorama

The film is complex and droll--always amusing and often hilarious.

May 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

...we see around and behind and underneath the stage, so to speak -- peering into the intertwined lives of the people who are caught up in the maelstrom of an untenable subject for film adaptation.

May 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinemalogue.com
Cinemalogue.com

A film about a film based on a novel about writing a novel

April 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

What Winterbottom has done beautifully is distill Sterne's comic experimentation with the rules and shape of the written narrative and translate it into a lark on filmmaking form and technique.

April 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

By all accounts, Sterne's novel is nutty and ribald and utterly defiant of conventional storytelling techniques ... hence this adaptation's wonderfully meta take.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Solidifies what Project Greenlight taught us; the process that goes into making a movie often ends up being far more entertaining than the finished project.

March 31, 2006

Amusing and often outright hilarious.

March 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

Audience Reviews for Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Having seen and fell in love with The Trip first, it was fun to spend more time with characters that I had come to know and love. On top of being a smart and layered film, Coogan and Brydon continue to give the audience their patented witty passive-aggressive banter. While I did not find myself sick with laughter in the same ways as i was with The Trip, it is still very funny. If you love the characters in all of their humor and misery, then this film is for you.
December 1, 2011
axadntpron
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

When did British comedy become boring? My guess. Sometime around this film's release. There's an average human drama subplot, but the rest is pretty stuck up [their own a***] comedy.
November 11, 2011
RossCollinsUK

Super Reviewer

your mileage may vary according to your taste in 18th century literature, british comedy and/or the post-modern film stylings of michael winterbottom/steve coogan. i enjoyed it very much, tho it's messy and not everything works. one clever bit, amongst many clever bits, was the score's subtly referencing everything from barry lyndon to 8 1/2, perhaps an allusion to the many charges of plagiarism against the novel
August 3, 2011
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

A difficult one this. It is very clever, brilliantly satirical and so layered, it is something quite revolutionary. So it is safe to say Michael Winterbottom has actually achieved something to match his heroes Fassbinder and Herzog. Is he as good a director? Nearly, but for every good film he makes, he makes a couple of duds. Coogan and Brydon are great together, they've more than proved that on telly - the supporting cast is ace, Moran being one of today's greatest comedians. To cut to the chase for once - It just wasn't very funny. Witty but I was never close to laughing. First rule of comedy: Make the audience laugh. Second rule: No one likes a smart-arse!
July 20, 2011
SirPant

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • A Cock and Bull Story (UK)
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