Dave's Rating:

5.0

… Robert Altman-esque …

Who's in It: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Keeley Hawes, David Walliams, Jeremy Northam, Kelly Macdonald, Ian Hart, Stephen Fry, Gillian Anderson

The Basics: It's a mock documentary and Robert Altman-esque period piece about the filming of the 18th-century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. It's also hysterically funny, weird and like nothing else you'll see all year.

What's the Deal? To write a synopsis of this crazy movie would take more space than I have. But here's sort of what happens — actors play themselves playing roles in the Tristram Shandy movie. The plot goes off in a dozen directions at once, gets fractured and then returns to any number of its multiple starting points. Characters pop up and go away, then come back. Digressions and asides are the story most of the time and yet, you won't be confused when it's over.

But What's It About? Well, it's sort of about the novel Tristram Shandy, and how postmodern it was before there was even such a thing as postmodernism. But it's also about the fiction of documentaries, the compromises of art, the narcissism of everyone and how cool Gillian Anderson is.

Do Your Homework: There are a handful of funny moments in this movie that will only work for you if you've seen 24 Hour Party People and Steve Coogan's U.K. television series Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge. Don't stress out about it much, though.

For Example: The real Tony Wilson shows up to play himself interviewing Steve Coogan. Steve Coogan, in turn, played Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People. By way of greeting, Tony Wilson mimics Steve Coogan as his most famous character, Alan Partridge, delivering Partridge's most famous catch phrase to an annoyed Steve Coogan. Following this?

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