Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

The novel ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy’ by Lawrence Sterne is widely considered to be unfilmable. This film is a mockumentary about an attempt at adapting and making a film of the novel. Steve Coogan takes the lead role as himself and as Tristram Shandy. It also stars Rob Brydon as the ‘co-lead’ amongst a whole host of British comedy talent.

The film boasts a wide range of comedy styles, from the integral banter between Coogan and Brydon to the more surreal moments, reminisent in style of ‘Scrubs’, at times. Much of the film’s comedy lies with referencing British pop culture, which probably diminishes some of the funnier moments for foreign audiences. For example, a running joke in the film involves Steve Coogan’s most famous incarnation, Alan Partridge. I’m not sure that those not familiar with the character would get the most out of the joke.

The comedy is not entirely verbal, however. While it is mainly banter, quips and mannerisms that makes the film incredibly funny, the funniest scene had to be one involving a hot chestnut, providing some hilarious visual humour. Much of the supporting cast is firmly rooted in the comedy world, so there’s not a problem of unfunny people in a funny film.

The film is an uplifting one, with Steve Coogan learning some valuable lessons during the shoot of the film. Best of all, these deeper ‘messages’ aren’t in the slightest bit didactic or out of place, rather they are simply the experiences of one man, showcased for us to see. These moments are never overpowering, the very successful comedic aspects being absolutely paramount.

8/10

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