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Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story 

Michael Winterbottom


Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
(Alliance/Universal)
Long thought of as unadaptable, Laurence Sterne’s classic The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman—a bawdy, self-reflexive novel—is now a bawdy, self-reflexive film. Steve Coogan (24 Hour Party People, Happy Endings) plays the titular Shandy, who narrates his own story from birth, frequently jumping about in time, criticizing the child actor hired to play Shandy as a kid. Coogan also jumps in and out of character, recognizable as the crabby, egocentric star from a segment of Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes. If you combine Robert Altman’s MASH, Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries and sprinkle in a bit of Monty Python, you’ll have a sense of what to expect. Director Michael Winterbottom (Coogan’s helmer for 24 Hour Party People, Code 46) is nothing if not versatile, and keeps his film from disappearing up its own post-modern ass by letting Coogan bring the laughs. A sterling supporting cast, including Stephen Fry, Jeremy Northam and Gillian Anderson, completes this slight but diverting experiment in comedy.
—Carsten Knox

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