Of this 94 minute film, the first 30 minutes or so seemed to take forever. It was random, hard to follow, and had few really funny jokes. Then suddenly (right around the hot chestnut joke) it became increasingly hilarious, until the last 30 minutes the audience was laughing almost continously.
A little background: It's a film about making a film about a book about writing a book. The novel centers around a writer, Tristam Shandy, writing a book about his life, except that he keeps digressing and getting interrupted. In the movie, it's described as "postmodern before there was any modernism to be post about."
HOWEVER, it is not necessary to know the book before you watch the movie. They very cleverly include people's commentary on the book and that's where you learn the above. And as soon as you understand that is the point of the book, the movie clicks into place.
There are many many layers to the movie, too many to explain. My favorite is where the moviemakers discuss the possibility of adding a scene between the infant Tristam and his father to make the father more human and shortly after, they have a beautiful scene where the egotistical main character changes his baby's diaper and sings him to sleep. Even though I knew what they intended me to feel, I still fell for it. Supposedly there were lots of inside jokes for fans of the actors and the director, but it was fine. I had more time to admire the other layers of the movie.
Be warned: It is very English and nonsensical. It's not so postmodern as to be completely inaccessible, but it certainly does not follow the standard narrative arc. It's a well-crafted comedy, but not for the faint of heart.
In other news: We saw trailers for three movies beforehand and two of them looked good. Keep an eye out for Brick and Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School.