I went to see A Cock and Bull Story the weekend before last, and liked it much more than I thought I would. Not that I expected to dislike it, but I did worry that Steve Coogan would be too annoying. He was a little in the early parts of the film and I still think he mostly plays multiple versions of the same character, but by the end his character seemed to have some depth.
It's not a straight adaptation of the book and it's not meant to be. It shares themes with Adaptation, in that both are about the process of making a film. There's enough humour for it not to seem clever-clever and overly knowing. The film acknowledges the feeling of frustration at missed-out elements of a favourite book by using character's complaints to include 'missing' scenes. (Thankfully it completely misses out the long travelogue sections I always get bogged down in.)
Rob Brydon steals every scene he's in. Keeley Hawes looks terribly grown up as Tristram's mother. Shirley Henderson is squeaky and interesting as usual. There are some great cameos, one of the best being Tony Wilson turning up to interview Steve Coogan. (Coogan played Wilson in 24 Hour Party People.)
I think this film manages to side step possible accusations of pretentiousness by being amusing, clever and touching. It also gets away with much of its unevenness and jumps between plot lines since Sterne does exactly the same thing. The digressions are the point of Tristram Shandy.