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Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (R)

Release Date: January 27th , 2006 (Angelika Film Center) by Picturehouse Films.
The Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Keeley Hawes, Shirley Henderson, Dylan Moran, David Williams, Jeremy Northam, Benedict Wong, Naomie Harris, Kelly Macdonald, Elizabeth Berrington, Mark Williams, Kieran O'Brien, Roger Allam, James Fleet, Ian Hart, Ronni Ancona, Stephen Fry, Gillian Anderson.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom.

BASIC PREMISE: A mockumentary about the filming of “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen”, the novel by Laurence Sterne, along with snippets from Tristram Shandy’s childhood in the 18th Century.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: How much you laugh at this silly mockumentary depends on how much you can stand Steve Coogan. Too much of him, in this case, becomes rather irritating. He plays the role of Tristram Shandy as well as his father, Walter Shandy. Off the set, Coogan’s girlfriend Jenny (Macdonald) watches off the set while carrying their six-month old son. The director (Northam) is about to shoot the scene of Tristram’s birth, but after somewhat funny mistakes, he must shoot it over and over. It’s difficult watch the scene when Dr.Slop (Moran) pulls the baby out from the mother (Hawes) by using forceps. Tristram’s uncle Toby (Brydon) recreates a battle scene to show how he became injured in his private area—not very funny. The attempts for physical humor continue with mixed results. A particularly hilarious scene is when Coogan enters a giant recreation of a sexual organ while filming and gets stuck. The rest of the humor just feels too juvenile, awkward, and repetitious. Off the set, Coogan’s girlfriend feels intimidated by his flirtations with a production runner (Harris), but this subplot never really goes anywhere. Gillian Anderson has a welcome, refreshing cameo in this rather stale comedy. Director Michael Winterbottom lacks the real comic edge of other directors, such as Woody Allen and Christopher Guest, who have done much funnier, off-beat mockumentaries before.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Repetitive, silly physical humor and too much of Steve Coogan gets irritating.


IN A NUTSHELL: A few hilarious moments, but most of the humor falls flat with repetitiveness and plain silliness rather than smart, off-beat humor.


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