True to the style of the novel until it becomes sidetracked, prolific underachiever Michael Winterbottom's riff on Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story is a half-decent attempt to film an allegedly unfilmable novel, something it does surprisingly well for about half an hour until it gives up and concentrates instead on the travails of making the movie and the growing paranoia of leading man Steve Coogan as he is increasingly upstaged by Rob Brydon. Unfortunately, as so often on the big screen, Coogan is decidedly awkward at first, and the comedy isn't as biting or funny as you'd like, relying a little too awkwardly on injokes. All too obviously a film of two halves, with the backstage story taking over the movie completely for the best part of an hour before returning to the narrative briefly, it's hard not to feel it would have benefited more from dipping in and out of the novel rather than abandoning it for so long. But there's still much to enjoy, not least Rob Brydon playing a love scene in the style of Roger Moore, though it falls far short of Coogan and Winterbottom's previous collaboration, the excellent 24 Hour Party People.
Although at first sight fairly skimpy on the extras, the DVD offers surprisingly good value - not only does the full interview with Tony Wilson (who Coogan played in 24 Hour Party People) appear as promised in the film, but the deleted and extended sequences, though few in number, are longer than expected.