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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cock and Bull Story.
Odd. Slightly confusing. Lacking in traditional structure...yes.
Intelligent. Chuckle-worthy. Original... Definitely.
A film, about a film about an unfilmable book.

A strange movie, undoubtedly and at first I didn't know how to take it. Was it a love story? Was it a mockumentary? One thing was certain...it was definitely a comedy. Quirky, off-the-wall...
Published on 6 Aug 2011 by Jodie-Lee Linley

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars By cock and bull
The classic novel by Laurence Sterne is best described in this movie: "This is a postmodern novel before there was any modernism to be post about."

So it sounded pretty disastrous that a film was being adapted from it. Actually, half a film -- the other film is a mockumentary about a film crew desperaately trying to make some kind of movie, out of a book with...
Published on 19 Mar 2007 by E. A Solinas


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1.0 out of 5 stars ... Seriously, what?!, 22 April 2014
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Didn't even make it to the end of the film. Turned it off and on again 4 times over the course of the rental and still decided we were happy to not find out how it ended. I'll still however watch anything Coogan is in because he's a genius. Lets just pretend this one didn't exist.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bull at its best, 20 Aug 2007
By 
EmmaH (Dorset, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I suppose it's not an absolute prerequisite to have read Tristram Shandy to enjoy this film, but judging by some of the other reviews, it certainly helps. I'm not sure otherwise how you would appreciate the anarchic structure of the film, or the way it plays with self-referentiality in the manner of Laurence Sterne's original masterpiece.

Tristram Shandy is probably one of the most intelligent, funny and inventive novels in English fiction, and one very close to my heart. So I was apprehensive when I first saw this, although I'd long been a fan of Rob Brydon and his "Marion and Geoff" series. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was delighted. The film has brilliantly captured all the vitality and exuberance of the book, following the spirit rather than the letter. As another reviewer so excellently put it, this is a film about making a film in just the same way as Sterne wrote a book about writing a book. It's crammed with wit, in-jokes and excellent cameo performances, and is a far better send-up of the whole business of making movies than the execrable "Adaptation".

Moreover, I am sure that Laurence Sterne, now dead nearly 350 years, would have admired it greatly.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film of a wonderful book, 17 July 2006
By 
P. Gilbert (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
No plot? The point of the film, and indeed the book, is that plot progression may be useful in telling simple stories but says nothing of the person telling the story. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a comic masterpiece, conveying perfectly the erratic and digressional nature of somebody trying desperately to write an account of all of the events, characters and opinions that have shaped his life thus far, whilst having fun with his audience. The film takes it's name from the final line of the book where the author, Sterne, admits that the whole story is such nonsense because it is meant to be.

I watched this film with trepidation, expecting it to be a hapless attempt at bringing the frivolity and energy of the novel to the less flexible medium of the big screen. Fortunately my fears were unfounded as Michael Winterbottom has created as good and worthy an interpretation as I can imagine it being possible to do. The half ad-libbed conversations between rob brydon and steve coogan are utter brilliance and the revelation that the documentary of the making of the 'film' is itself part of the acted film adds an interesting and relevant extra-layer.

The only reason this film does not get 5 stars is no fault of the film itself but of the restrictions inherent in translating a large novel to film. As a film in its own right, A Cock and Bull Story is funny, entertaining, multi-layered and intelligent but it is best seen as a modern and competent re-telling of a classic story.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not as clever as it would like to be, 20 Aug 2007
This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Michael Winterbottom is no stranger to the whole idea of postmodernism and self referencing. Indeed, one of the things that made his rip roaring 24hour party people so enjoyable was its constant ability to reference itself as well as a number of well placed post modern jokes (the one in which Tony Wilson japes that a scene was cut from the film but will probably be on the deleted scenes on the DVD springs instantly to mind). Unfortunately, when self reference turns into self reverence, then we have a problem, and this is exactly what happens to this film.
A film within a film, it deals with the attempt to bring the "unfilmable" 18th century novel "The Life and Adventures of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" by Laurence Sterne to the screen, and all the problems, insecurities and arguments that this entails. Playing with our preconceptions to a certain degree, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play...well essentially themselves, or rather caricatures of themselves as the take on the roles of characters in the book and the actors playing those characters, who just happen to be named...Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
So far so good, as the film happily mixes both scenes from Tristrams life (including his amazingly drawn out birth, during which Coogan plays not only Tristrams father, but also narrates as the yet unborn Tristram himself), and the things that go on around the production (Coogan worrying that the heels on his shoes are to low, thereby not giving him enough presence in the film, Brydon mocking Coogans inflated ego with some surprisingly well observed impressions, constant Alan Partridge references, so on and so forth). And aside from Coogan and Brydon, the film boasts a wealth of acting and comedic talent, including Naomi Harris, Dylan Moran, Keeley Hawes and even a brief appearance from Gillian Anderson as the cut from the final film Widow Wadman.
Unfortunately, none of this prevents the film from descending into something of a mess. Whether Winterbottom is trying to say something about the film-making process, something about actors or something about our own pre-conceptions, it is hard to say amidst the confusing jumble that this film becomes. Whilst the film is undoubtedly clever, it is not nearly as clever as it clearly thinks it is. Funny in parts, ironic and knowing in others, it is a confusing whole and lives up to its title only by accident.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cock and Bull Story, 31 Mar 2014
By 
This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
How does one even begin to approach the writing of a review for a film based - ostensibly - upon a book, when the source text is so self-consciously obscure and non-linear, and where the film adaptation is, for the most part, unconcerned (to put it mildly) with the telling of the novel's tale, such as it is?

Well: A Cock and Bull Story is that very film; Tristram Shandy is that novel, and this review, to be absolutely clear on the matter, is that review.

First of all, I am reminded to bring to your attention that most famous of phrases heard in its original Latin: "Ars Gratia Artis". It means "Art for Art's sake", though, if you have read this far, I would not presuppose that you would be unfamiliar with such a fact. It is a phrase which has been inseparably linked to the world of the moving picture for some nine decades: being, as it is, the motto of the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer film studios.

MGM did not play any part in either the creation or the funding of the film for which I am writing this review however; and this subject is (as far as I can tell) an entirely unrelated one, and a side track along which I have no intention of embarking at this early stage. I only draw your attention to that company now for the reasons of the aforementioned motto which they have chosen: it being a motto which most certainly does bear some relevance to the topic at hand.

As a coincidental (though for the most part irrelevant) observation on the fact, A Cock and Bull Story is distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, and the MGM mascot is itself a lion. It is a simple matter and wholly unimportant to this review, though I thought I would bring it to your attention anyway. I should stress again that MGM played no part in the making of this film.

As the review seems at this point to be in danger of losing its way, I think it may be of some value to recap the most significant points we have visited thus far, and then look for a way to proceed from there. Onward, and onto the most important parts of the review.

We are all now familiar with the notion that A Cock and Bull Story is, as a matter of fact, the telling of another story: the story of Tristram Shandy. We have also heard described the self-evident truth that Tristram Shandy is a novel, whereas A Cock and Bull Story is a film (distributed, as the keener reader will have recalled, by Lionsgate Home Entertainment Ltd, and not MGM Studios as I have heard many erroneously believe). There was, after these initial revelations, some discussion of that most unrelated of film studios: a discussion for which I have no time to add any further comments at this point. Though let its presence here be noted now if only for completeness' sake, and so that none shall be able to accuse this review of being in any way an inadequate account of the events up until this point.

Before I chose to recap the contents of my review, I had brought forwards for your consideration that motto: "Art For Art's Sake", and it is for the sake of Art itself and the creative muse that I find the greatest measure of enjoyment is to be found in A Cock and Bull Story. Some might describe this film as a great story artlessly told; others, that it is not a story at all, but that it is told artfully, nonetheless.

Whether a film is a fine example of one thing, or a terrible example of another, it hardly seems fitting nor appropriate to say in a review such as the one you have availed yourself to reading presently. For if I were to suggest that it were one thing, only for it to be proven - beyond any amount of doubt or dissent - that it were, in actual fact, something altogether different, would that not count as some black mark against both myself, and the esteem with which you had held my review up until this point, when we have already seen that much truth and accuracy has been written prior to this most awkward moment? No: in my understanding, it is not the business of the reviewer to decide for his readers what a thing is, and what a thing may (or may not) be. For, just as I may think I know what this film is, I can just as equally not know all of the things that it is not; and nor should I be expected to.

What I can say however, is this: A Cock And Bull Story is a fine example of what it is, whatever what it is may in fact be.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay rental, lousy purchase, 14 Aug 2011
By 
tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I came to this film as a long time fan of the book Tristram Shandy. The film does indeed feature some of the funniest sequences from the book. However the overall effect is of a rather oddly put together greatest hits collection.

We get
Tristram Shandy's accident with the window
Tristram's uncle going on about the battle where he was injured

We also get
some music from the Draughtsman's Contract
some not bad period shooting

There is also a mix of comedy stylings from Steve Coogan, doing a sour star in the style of numerous recent TV faux documentary comedies, doing pantomime when a hot chestnut is dropped into his trousers [the only bit that had me laughing out loud], a running strand of meditation on film-making as in La Nuit Americaine [DVD].

However the dominant element is the bickering between Coogan and Brydon, it is not clear whether it is scripted or improvised.

In theory there is no reason why this should not work, if the various elements complimented each other, but most viewers are likely to find it dull and frustrating for a chunk of the viewing time. Although Gillian Anderson is game, she is only in the film for about ten minutes, oddly Keeley Hawes, though great in the Tristram Shandy elements, does not participate in the lengthy improvised scenes. You wonder if they were signed up when the script looked very different.

In the end it is one of those self indulgent films that was probably more fun to make than it was to watch. It is not really bad, but considering the source material, one of the greatest and most entertaining modernist books ever written, it is not all that good either.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I can't decide, nor can they......, 12 Oct 2014
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This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Confused and confusing. At least it seems to have inspired the excellent "The Trip"
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Trip [Prototype], 10 Aug 2014
By 
BJD (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Indispensable for fans of The Trip- same sort of thing, same quality- what could be better?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 20 Jan 2014
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This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
This is a great film and very funny. From the onset with Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan taking the mick out of each other .Very good value for money and the extras features are worth a view
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Trip meets Black Swan, 15 Dec 2013
By 
Mr. S. A. Brown "yentilsale1" (Kilmarnock, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I think in many ways this film was always going to provoke some excessively negative reviews. It's a combination of Steve Coogan's brand of comedy (which I know many people outside of the UK find quite baffling/annoying) and Tristram Shandy (a book where the main joke is that the story is rambling and never gets to the point). If you lack either of these reference points there's a good chance you won't enjoy it.

Despite that drastically reducing the potential audience of the film, as someone who is both a Steve Coogan fan and a fan of the book I thought it was extremely well done. At times it feels a bit like an extended version of "The Trip" (the more popular comedy series Coogan and Rob Brydon did after this film, which was then turned into a sequel) but the addition of material from the book takes it to a new level.

Overall I'd say that if you can look past all of the negative reviews below and have the patience to go along with the necessarily rambling nature of the film, it's a good watch. It's by no means hilariously funny, but I found it well written, well acted and genuinely entertaining.
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A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006]
A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006] by Michael Winterbottom (DVD - 2007)
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