It's British, it's an adaptation of an 18th-century novel, and it has a lot of period costumes. Despite these facts, Tristram Shandy is not stuffy in the slightest. Actually, it's quite funny. A lot of this is due to the source novel (described in the film as "post-modern before there was any modernism to be post about"), a notoriously whacked-out so-called autobiography where the narrator gets so distracted by side plots and minutiae that he never gets past describing his birth. So it goes with the film -- after the opening scene, it proceeds to get so distracted from the task at hand that it becomes less an adaptation and more a comment on the process of adaptation and movie-making. At the end of the film, Tristram Shandy (the film-within-the-film) is finished, but we don't know how it got there. The journey, not the destination, must then be the point. Good thing, then, that the journey is so amusing. Leads Steve Coogan and Rob Bryson play off each other hilariously, with Coogan essaying his comic specialty (the staggering egoist) as well as he can. The chestnut scene is a highlight, but there's plenty of good stuff scattered amidst the intentional chaos (the Fassbinder discussion! the womb! the Widow Wadman!). This is more fun than any film involving period dress has any right to be.