Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
"A Cock and Bull Story" (original title)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  20 January 2006 (UK)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.8/10 from 11,043 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 122 user | 122 critic | 35 from

Director Michael Winterbottom (Northam) attempts to shoot the adaptation of Laurence Sterne's essentially unfilmable novel, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman."


(novel), (screenplay) (as Martin Hardy)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

2 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Trip I (2010)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Steve Coogan has been asked by The Observer to tour the country's finest restaurants, but after his girlfriend backs out on him he must take his best friend and source of eternal aggravation, Rob Brydon.

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Paul Popplewell
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Two men, six meals in six different places on a road trip around Italy. Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and ending in Capri.

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rosie Fellner
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In 1976, Tony Wilson sets up Factory Records and brings Manchester's music to the world.

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Steve Coogan, Lennie James, John Thomson
The Trip (TV Series 2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Steve is asked to review restaurants for the UK's Observer who is joined on a working road trip by his friend Rob who fills in at the last minute when Coogan's romantic relationship falls apart.

Stars: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rebecca Johnson
Wonderland (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

There's little wonder in the working-class lives of Bill, Eileen, and their three grown daughters. They're lonely Londoners. Nadia, a cafe waitress, places personal ads, looking for love; ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Shirley Henderson, Gina McKee, Molly Parker
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Rosie and Vincent know each other for ten years, and are married for five. She doesn't like her job, he isn't too pleased working with her dad. They're trying to have a baby. One morning ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Dervla Kirwan, Yvan Attal
Everyday I (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

This film charts the relationship between a man imprisoned for drug smuggling and his wife and is being shot over the course of five years, a few weeks at a time.

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Shirley Henderson, John Simm, Shaun Kirk
Comedy | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Eunice is walking along the highways of northern England from one filling station to another. She is searching for Judith, the woman, she says to be in love with. It's bad luck for the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Amanda Plummer, Kathy Jamieson, Saskia Reeves
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When famous DJ Alan Partridge's radio station is taken over by a new media conglomerate, it sets in motion a chain of events which see Alan having to work with the police to defuse a potentially violent siege.

Director: Declan Lowney
Stars: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Tim Key
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

The life of Paul Raymond, the controversial entrepreneur who became Britain's richest man.

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Steve Coogan, Matt Lucas, Anna Friel
In This World (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In February 2002 in the Shamshatoo Refugee Camp in the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, there are 53,000 refugees living in sub-human conditions since 1979 with the Soviet Union ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Jamal Udin Torabi, Enayatullah, Imran Paracha
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Donal is a 14-year old who develops a passion for greyhound racing. He works in a kennel, which is owned by Good Joe. Good Joe promises Donal ownership of Donal's favorite greyhound, The ... See full summary »

Director: Pearse Elliott
Stars: Ken Stott, Tyrone McKenna, Gillian Anderson


Cast overview, first billed only:
Elizabeth / Keeley Hawes
Raymond Waring ...
Conal Murphy ...
Joe Williams ...
London Doctor
Dr. Slop


Two actors, as their make up is applied, talk about the size of their parts. Then into the film: Laurence Sterne's unfilmable novel, Tristram Shandy, a fictive autobiography wherein the narrator, interrupted constantly, takes the entire story to be born. The film tracks between "Shandy" and behind the scenes. Size matters: parts, egos, shoes, noses. The lead's girlfriend, with their infant son, is up from London for the night, wanting sex; interruptions are constant. Scenes are shot, re-shot, and discarded. The purpose of the project is elusive. Fathers and sons; men and women; cocks and bulls. Life is amorphous, too full and too rich to be captured in one narrative. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He's About To Play The Role Of His Life. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 January 2006 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story  »

Box Office


£2,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£332,582 (UK) (20 January 2006)


$1,247,453 (USA) (28 April 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Stephen Rodrick was on set to interview Michael Winterbottom for the New York Times magazine (published on 3 July 2005) when he was roped in to appear in the film. See more »


Steve Coogan: I've got to be able to kick and stretch. That's what foeti do.
Leo: Yeah, but not when they're full term.
Steve Coogan: He wants realism. Yeah. I'm a grown man, talking to the camera, in a womb.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits have (intentional) spacing issues, and mismatched fonts. See more »


Carlotta's Gallop
Written by Nino Rota
(P) & © C.A.M Srl
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Lots of Cleverness and some Wit but -- I do fear -- not quite enough Shandy
17 November 2005 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

Michael Winterbottom's movie is an Altmanesque production depicting an English crew shooting Laurence's Sterne's eccentric eighteenth-century literary classic. It begins wittily and appropriately with Steve Coogan exchanging mocking banter with costar Rob Bryden, and then Coogan, with cosmetically enlarged and crooked nose and proper costume, becomes Shandy introducing himself. The essentials of the book are sketched in -- first of all, Tristram's meandering account of his childhood and birth (not in any logical order -- nor should they be -- and intersperced with Coogan's caustic comments on the child actors playing him at earlier stages -- which perfectly fits in with Sterne's tendency to interrupt himself on the slightest pretext); then, Uncle Toby (Rob Briden) and his obsession with his exploits at the Battle of Naumur, which include an injury whose location he studiously avoids explicating. The mishaps surrounding Tristram's birth start with his name and move on to the forceps -- then a new device -- whose clumsy use by Dr. Slop cause the altered nose. A falling window caused even more crucial damage.

The moment of birth is dwelt upon -- then the camera cuts back to the crew and the focus shifts to the Coogan-Bryden rivalry again, Steve's girlfriend and their baby, his own problems in bed, his flirtation with a pale-coffee-colored lady crew member who's a great film buff. Coogan wants his shoes made with higher heels so he's taller than Bryden. The filmmakers hold endless confabs over how to do a battle scene and whether to bring in the romance with Widow Wadham (to be played by Gillian Anderson, who agrees from Los Angeles with comic alacrity). Anderson's presence brings in more money for the battle, and then both the battle and the romance are left out of the final cut. Much hilarity accompanies these details, though the main focus is on Coogan's stardom and inability to have a minute to himself.

Unfortunately once Winterbottom pulls away from the birth scene, the Sterne novel, which pretty much ranks with Fielding's "Tom Jones" for brilliance and humor, somewhat falls by the wayside never to be recovered till just before the end, when it seems tacked back in as a hasty afterthought. And hasty is one thing Sterne never is: impulsive and quirky, but never, never, never -- oh, my Heavens No! -- not rushed. At novel's end, his main character, after all, has still not been born.

Maybe it means something that only one member of the cast is reported to have ever actually read "Tristram Shandy" through to the end. Neither Coogan nor Bryden seems particularly eighteenth-century in their role, and Bryden's isn't a particularly inspired recreation of Uncle Toby. Nobody is amiably eccentric to the right degree.

Winterbottom has made an intermittently quite funny movie that never loses its pace, but he has recreated Robert Altman rather than Laurence Sterne, and when you realize this, if you care at all about the novel, the whole enterprise, despite its frantic energy, becomes, for all its wit and good humor, a little bit of a drag. This is an enormously clever film, but what seems brilliant on paper doesn't always play for keeps.

36 of 56 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Why Is The Book Unfilmable? alex_mckenzie_2005
'Fill me with your babies' overratedcritic
Rob Brydon vs Steve Coogan flandersnswan
Score Question eddie2004
extras poohandco1
a very clever film echo_park37

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: