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"TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK & BULL STORY"
(2006) (Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Moderate *Heavy Minor Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Minor Mild Moderate Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A small cast and movie crew try to film a reportedly un-filmable but famous novel.
PLOT:
It's the 1700s and Tristram Shandy (STEVE COOGAN) is a proper English gentlemen who's addressing the viewer about his life and times, including that of his Uncle Toby (ROB BRYDON) who suffered an embarrassing injury in the siege of Namur. But Tristram is most interested in talking about his own birth. We then flashback to his father Walter (STEVE COOGAN) awaiting the birth of his son, all as servant Susannah (SHIRLEY HENDERSON) tends to his wife, Elizabeth (KEELEY HAWES) who's deep in the throes of labor, all as Dr. Slop (DYLAN MORAN) desires to use a new delivery device known as the forceps on her.

But all of this is just make-believe as Coogan, Brydon, Henderson, Hawes and Moran are really actors on the set attempting to film a version of "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman," an 18th century novel known to most as un-filmable. But that hasn't deterred the cast or crew -- including director Mark (JEREMY NORTHAM), producer Simon (JAMES FLEET) and screenwriter Joe (IAN HART) -- from giving it their best shot.

When the dailies point out the low-budget approach and thus don't bode well for the film's success, the crew decides to reinsert the previously jettisoned love story, thus necessitating the hiring of Gillian Anderson (GILLIAN ANDERSON) to play Widow Wadman. As that fictional romantic element is rekindled, Steve must figure out and balance his own romantic longings for production assistant Jennie (NAOMIE HARRIS) as his girlfriend and mother of his child, Jenny (KELLY MACDONALD), arrives for a brief visit.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of director Winterbottom or someone in the cast, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language and sexual content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • STEVE COOGAN plays a spin on himself, a conceited actor who's fathered a child with his girlfriend but is tempted by his assistant. He uses strong profanity, drinks and plays the title character and his father in the film.
  • ROB BRYDON plays a version of himself, an actor who's competitive with Steve. He also uses some strong profanity and plays the title character's uncle who received an embarrassing wound in the war.
  • NAOMIE HARRIS plays Steve's smart and insightful assistant who wants to have a fling with him. She uses some strong profanity.
  • KELLY MACDONALD plays Steve's girlfriend and mother of his son who's traveled a long way to spend time with him on the set but is somewhat upset that he has little time for her. She drinks some and briefly fools around with him.
  • KEELEY HAWES plays herself, an actress playing the part of the title character's pregnant mother who's in labor for most of her scenes.
  • SHIRLEY HENDERSON plays herself, an actress playing the part of Elizabeth's faithful servant.
  • DYLAN MORAN plays himself as well as the doctor character who wants to deliver Elizabeth's baby with a new contraption known as the forceps.
  • JEREMY NORTHAM plays the film's director who isn't pleased with how things are turning out.
  • JAMES FLEET plays the film's producer.
  • IAN HART plays the film's screenwriter.
  • GILLIAN ANDERSON plays herself, a famous actress brought in to appear in the film. She uses some strong profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated comedy. Profanity consists of at least 36 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered. Sexually related dialogue (some of it explicit) is present, as is a several minute conception sequence played for comedy that includes movement, sounds and nudity. Other fooling around occurs, brief nonsexual nudity (including that of infant penises) and varying amounts of cleavage are observed.

    Various characters drink and brief smoking (or smoking related material) occurs. Brief war footage is seen in the movie within the movie (and is played for laughs, including when a character is hit in the crotch) and there's some brief blood, bloody clothes and scatological material. Some comedy-based bad attitudes are present, as is a brief moment of thinking a newborn is dead (in the movie within the movie) but that turns out to be incorrect.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there is some handheld camera movement from time to time, some of it rather bumpy.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Walter and Toby have wine.
  • An interviewer asks Steve if he wants to get a drink, but the actor doesn't have the time.
  • A person has wine in front of them.
  • After his agent/manager asks Steve if he wants a drink, the actor orders a vodka tonic (the other man has wine).
  • Steve's agent/manager comments on reports that Steve had a lap dancer in his room. The agent/manager then asks among other things if they did drugs and Steve says no.
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks.
  • Steve comments on being drunk the night before when he kissed Jennie.
  • Steve orders a vodka tonic while others have other drinks.
  • Cast and crew members have wine and other drinks.
  • Steve orders another vodka tonic in another scene.
  • Jenny has wine in bed.
  • Various people have wine.
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks.
  • Cast and crew members have wine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • In a flashback scene, a woman assists a young boy in urinating out the window (we see the stream and his penis). The window then accidentally slams down on his penis which we see under the window and then out from it, slightly smashed (played for comedy).
  • A flashback style scene shows Dr. Slop in what looks like bloody clothes (on the war front and after treating others).
  • During a demo of his forceps on Toby's hand, Dr. Slop squeezes too hard and accidentally cuts his hand (we see a little blood on it).
  • We briefly see a partial shot of a newborn's head as he's being delivered and there's blood and goo on it (we don't see any explicit part of the mother's body). After he's been delivered with faulty forceps, we see a slightly bloody cut across his nose (played for laughs).
  • We see period footage from Pavlov's experiment with ringing bells and salivating dogs and the old film footage seems to show the dog missing part of its flesh over its jaw (presumably as part of the experiment to view the saliva flow).
  • We see Steve changing his baby's dirty diaper and see excrement in it and on the baby.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • All of the following is played for laughs.
  • Walter seems perturbed that his wife's pregnancy was a false one, and that going to see the doctor was a waste of time at a bad time for him.
  • Steve's agent/manager comments on reports that Steve had a lap dancer in his room. The agent/manager then asks if they had sex (no), did drugs (no) and then asks again about sex (no, then yes). We later hear that Steve was kissing Jennie (he says that he was drunk) and he nearly has a fling with her (despite Jenny -- his girlfriend and mother of his child -- being there).
  • A comment is made about an HBO movie where the main character loses his memory and then falls in love with his daughter (played for laughs but some might not like the joke).
  • Steve is an egotistical actor (in a somewhat subdued fashion) where he wants to make sure his shoes make him taller than Rob. When the latter's part is expanded when the plot is changed, Steve isn't happy.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • There's a brief flashback bit (in the movie within the movie) where they say a newborn baby is all black and likely to die (we don't see it in that state, but do see the anguished mother), but moments later it's okay.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • We see muskets and cannons being fired in a scene from the movie. During this battle, Uncle Toby is hit in the crotch (no blood and played for comedy).
  • We return to the previous battle scene and see more canon fire.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck you, asshole," "F*ck you, you son of a bitch," "Oh f*ck," "F*cking hell," "For f*ck's sake," "(Utter) Sh*te," "He's a d*ck," "Bloody," "Womb with a view," "Taking a piss," "I'm taking you down" and "That's bollocks."
  • A crewmember has a pierced eyebrow.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 36 "f" words (6 used sexually), 3 "s" words (some said as "sh*te"), 11 slang terms using male genitals ("c*ck," "d*ck" and "equipment"), 1 slang terms for the female anatomy ("funnel"), 3 asses (all used with "hole"), 2 damns, 1 bollocks, 1 hell, 1 S.O.B., 3 uses of "God" and 1 use each of "Christ," "Good Lord," "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," "Oh God" and "Oh my God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A person comments, "People fool around with themselves all of the time" (not exactly meant sexually, but it could be taken that way).
  • Period dresses worn by the actresses show varying amounts of cleavage.
  • When describing the title and first showing a real bull, Tristram says that he'll show us "the c*ck in a minute." When Uncle Toby is hit in the crotch during a battle, Tristram says it's about his (Tristram's) "c*ck" and not Uncle Toby's.
  • In a flashback scene, a woman assists a young boy in urinating out the window (we see the stream and his penis). The window then accidentally slams down on his penis which we see under the window and then out from it, slightly smashed (played for comedy).
  • Tristram comments on being circumcised.
  • About Elizabeth wanting the midwife and not Dr. Slop, Toby tells Walter that maybe she "didn't want a man so close to her..." (but he can't complete the thought).
  • When Toby can't refer to a woman's private parts, someone uses the term "funnel," and a woman uses another slang term.
  • There's a several minute comedy bit about Tristram's conception and it starts with talk that his father had two duties. One was winding the clocks in the house and the other was "more enjoyable." We then see several nearly identical shots of him on top of Elizabeth in bed and under the covers, with him thrusting (and we hear their sexual sounds). The narrator then equates the clock winding and subsequent sex with Pavlov's experiment with ringing bells and dogs salivating, stating that when Elizabeth heard Walter winding the clocks, she knew that meant sex was to follow and thus her "saliva" would flow. We then see a shot of her from behind as she disrobes and moves toward the bed (we see full rear nudity). The narrator then comments on Walter breaking the cycle and trying to have sex before winding the clock, thus meaning Elizabeth didn't produce any "saliva" and sex was therefore painful for her (we see another shot of Walter on top of her in bed under the covers with more thrusting, but a pained look on her face -- she eventually asks about him winding the clock).
  • We see a gigantic, prop womb, complete with a uterus (with a clear side), ovaries and fallopian tubes. Steve is then lowered down inside this to test it out for a scene in the movie representing his time in the womb (he's fully dressed when inside it).
  • Jenny shows a little cleavage.
  • Steve's agent/manager comments on reports that Steve had a lap dancer in his room. The agent/manager then asks if they had sex (no), did drugs (no) and then asks again about sex (no, then yes). He then asks if they did anything weird (sexually) and Steve says no.
  • Seeing Jenny bent over (in jeans, with her shirt riding up, thus showing her lower back) giving their baby a bath (we see the infant's penis), Steve walks up, grabs her hips and playfully (but sexually) puts his clothed crotch to her butt. Steve then suggestively asks if she'll bath him later and she jokingly says no.
  • Jenny shows some cleavage.
  • We see Steve in just a towel (after showering) and he kisses Jenny several times, but they're interrupted by work.
  • Steve references Groucho Marx's joke about a woman with many kids where she said she loved her husband and he replied that he loves his cigar but takes it out now and then.
  • We see a montage of Steve play acting that he has a hot chestnut down the front of his pants. The real thing is then put in and he reacts to the burning sensation, with the other man having his hand down inside the front of Steve's pants trying to get it out. It's all played for laughs, with Steve being perturbed but joking about the man having his finger "up my asshole" and then adding that he should buy him dinner first (before doing that).
  • A magazine shows scantly clad and/or bare-breasted women (briefly seen).
  • We see Steve changing his baby's diaper and see the boy's penis.
  • Someone jokes about what sounded like someone having a wart on their penis, followed by Steve making some joking comment about intercourse when leaving with Jenny.
  • Rob admits to having a sexual thing for Gillian Anderson.
  • Rob says something about Jenny having mentioned Steve's loss of his libido after his baby's birth, with Steve getting defensive and saying there's been no such loss.
  • Jenny has wine in bed and tells Steve that she traveled a long way to have sex with him.
  • Gillian shows some cleavage.
  • In a scene from the movie, Gillian's character is concerned about Rob's character and "the state of your equipment" (genitals, knowing he was wounded there during the war). He then says he'll show her and that "you can put your finger on it" (meaning a scale model of the battle that he's constructed out in the yard, while she thinks he's going to drop his pants). But the filming of the scene ends there.
  • Gillian and others see a miniaturized version of Steve in the above prop womb (only a foot or so tall) where he appears nude inside it (we see the side of his butt), but his crotch appears to be covered with some sort of flesh-colored material). All of that then turns out to have just been a dream/nightmare on his part.
  • A historical expert gives names to the various reenactors for a battle scene, including what sounded like "Free Fornication Williams."
  • While talking about some other work, Steve asks Jennie if that's the one with all of the sex in it.
  • Talking about a fictional character outdoors on a set at night (to Steve, with both fully clothed), Jennie says it's better for her (the character) to "f*ck them." That's repeated several times, including from her directly to Steve as they passionately kiss ("f*ck me"). But he stops them, saying he has to get back to Jenny.
  • We see Steve and Jenny passionately kissing in bed and rolling around some (both alternating on top) in mostly head and shoulders shots of them (no nudity).
  • In a scene from the movie, a comment is made about the candle being out when making a baby, with Steve's character saying not all couples do that, and Elizabeth's adding that sometimes she wants the candle lit.
  • We see a bull mounting and trying to mate with a cow (no view of its penis), followed by a joking comment about a man's "c*ck" (in terms of the "cock and bull" part of the title).
  • SMOKING
  • A minor character briefly smokes.
  • We hear that the doc is at the Shandy estate for pipe tobacco.
  • We see Walter with an unlit pipe.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • There's a brief flashback bit (in the movie within the movie) where they say a newborn baby is all black and likely to die (we don't see it in that state, but do see the anguished mother), but moments later it's okay.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The way the filmmakers got around making an "un-filmable" story.
  • We see and hear Elizabeth screaming from being in labor.
  • Forceps and childbirth.
  • We see period footage from Pavlov's experiment with ringing bells and salivating dogs and the old film footage seems to show the dog missing part of its flesh over its jaw (presumably as part of the experiment to view the saliva flow).
  • We hear that Jenny is not Steve's wife, but instead is his girlfriend (and the mother of their child).
  • Jennie comments that who we become is all a matter of chance.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see muskets and canons being fired in a scene from the movie. During this battle, Uncle Toby is hit in the crotch (no blood and played for comedy).
  • In a flashback scene, a woman assists a young boy in urinating out the window (we see the stream and his penis). The window then accidentally slams down on his penis which we see under the window and then out from it, slightly smashed (played for comedy).
  • The doc is accidentally knocked off his horse (he's okay, and it's played for comedy).
  • We return to the previous battle scene and see more cannon fire.
  • During a demo of his forceps on Toby's hand, Dr. Slop squeezes too hard and accidentally cuts his hand (we see a little blood on it).



  • Reviewed December 29, 2005 / Posted February 17, 2006

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

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