Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. 100
    Because their work is so varied, the director Winterbottom and Boyce, his frequent writer, are only now coming into focus as perhaps the most creative team in British film.
  2. 63
    The tone is lighthearted and the performances are effective but, in the end, the feature is so inconsequential as to leave no lasting impression.
  3. 75
    It's really inventive and bizarre and marvelously entertaining.
  4. The first great, mind-tickling treat of the new movie year.
  5. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    The movie's still a wickedly droll put-on. Better yet, beneath the fun lurks a dry and weary sigh at life's refusal to match the tidiness of art.
  6. The result is a movie more concerned with movie-making than with the stuff of Sterne's great book, but a movie that's good for lots of laughs if you share its fondness for actors and for fatuous actors' banter, which I do.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    100
    Rather than adapt the novel per se, Winterbottom has adapted Sterne's hilarious attempts to make the mess of life fit the neat contours of the novel by making a movie about an attempt to make Sterne's chaotic and confusing novel fit the contours of a film.
  8. If that sounds highbrow and pretentious, it's not. The neat trick of Tristram Shandy is that the whole thing comes off as a lark.
  9. This farce eventually runs out of steam, devolving into a protracted docudrama about actor Steve Coogan (who plays the title hero as well as his father), but until then this is a pretty clever piece of jive.
  10. It's all a bit precious and preening, but Coogan is marvelous, almost as good as he was in Winterbottom's "24 Hour Party People."
  11. More fun than a company picnic - and a lot more fun than the classic 18th century novel that inspired it - Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story is the first good comedy of 2006.
  12. 91
    Coogan makes tremendous sport of himself, taking on a role as an adulterous, vain, anxiety-riddled, alcoholic and truly comic creep. Brydon is exquisitely droll as the straight man to this ugly comedian act.
  13. Can a little-read 18th-century literary masterpiece be food-spittingly funny? Can it also include contemporary English actors riffing about their bad teeth, getting drunk and kissing their personal assistants? The answer is yes, as long as you agree that the best way to adapt an original book is with a correspondingly original film.
  14. 80
    A comedy embedded with secret tips for better, more enjoyable living.
  15. 70
    For all the on-set antics, appropriated Fellini music, and throwaway gags, the movie is most successful when Coogan is pulling faces for the mirror, aimlessly trading Pacino imitations with his sidekick Brydon, or riffing on the color of the latter's teeth.
  16. It's pretty funny. You don't actually watch it so much as indulge it and admire its cleverness.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    80
    This may seem too inside-cricket for a U.S. audience. And it's true that Cock and Bull is so postpostmodern, it's very nearly postmovie. But it's no less diverting for all that. It would be a shame if the great novel no one has read becomes the terrific film nobody bothers to see.
  18. Winterbottom carves his own intimate tale out of the sprawling material, a modest miniature with witty flair and moments of humility.
  19. 75
    Has about a dozen layers of in-joke, and up to the eighth or ninth layer, they mostly work.
  20. This is not just a movie-within-a-movie, but a movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie, something that sounds unbearably arch but that is swift, funny and surprisingly unpretentious.
  21. Quite astonishingly, amidst all the chaos – and there's no better word for Tristram Shandy's inspired, breakneck madness – what emerges is a featherlight, moving meditation on new fatherhood.
  22. 40
    Unfortunately, it's also maddeningly repetitive, and dependent on the kind of strained English whimsy that leaves your throat sore from laughter that dies in the glottal region.
  23. Sitting in front of Tristram Shandy for an hour and a half lets us enjoy the fact that, smooth though its making is, the picture is winking at us.
  24. 90
    By not even attempting to follow Sterne to the letter, Winterbottom and Boyce have triumphantly captured his impish creative spirit.
  25. A highly amusing combination period film and mockumentary.
  26. The trouble with describing a story this complex and digressive is that it's hard to keep it from sounding complicated and hard-to-follow. But for a movie about movies, it's surprisingly humanistic, cheerful and true to life.
  27. Long deemed unfilmable, the 18th century novel finds the perfect interpreters in director Michael Winterbottom and actor Steve Coogan.
  28. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    88
    The movie biz inside jokes eventually yield to fairly merciless plumbings about the construction of the self, resulting in a kind of philosophical discomfort that's much different from the run-of-the-mill humiliations this sort of thing usually trucks in.
  29. Christopher Guest only wishes he could nail a parody/homage as smart and deadpan as this, but while his ensemble improvisation movies are increasingly full of mighty wind, Winterbottom's is consistently smart and silly without becoming caricature.
  30. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    80
    A successful mix of literary adaptation, meta-fictional discourse and inside-showbiz comedy. Both funny and clever.
  31. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    88
    It's a little bit "Tom Jones," a little bit "Adaptation," a smidge of Monty Python and a dash of Fellini's "861/2," right down to Winterbottom's use of music by the brilliant Fellini composer, Nino Rota.
  32. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    75
    This movie is a proudly esoteric piece of comedy jazz: Freewheeling and low-key at the same time, it'll thrill audiences that know the meaning of the word esoteric but bore others. For a small cult, it seems likely to get funnier the more times you see it.
  33. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    80
    The actors are in a nice place--poking fun at themselves without spilling into travesty. Fogged by self-absorption, Coogan makes you like him most when he's most dislikable; he has a fool's vulnerability.
  34. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    80
    Never loses sight of its mission to be as silly, bawdy, and entertaining as possible.
  35. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    70
    Cheating flagrantly, helmer Michael Winterbottom has pulled off the trick -- sort of -- with the wickedly playful Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.

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