Twenty-something Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss - excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.
The Full Monty offers a seductive, playful piece of comic gumption: Six unemployed steel workers become amateur male strippers, baring themselves as an antidote to the dole. The title is British slang for "buck naked," but the film isn't about nudity, or lust, exactly. It takes as its subject the free-falling sense of desperation provoked by unemployment. As these flaccid bodies strive to exude "sexiness," director Peter Cattaneo turns their struggle into a blue-collared survival reflex, which yields a thin yet agreeable amount of emotional weight.
Robert Carlyle plays a bitter but devoted divorced father trying to meet his support payments so his son will trust him, and Mark Addy just wants to provide for his nurturing wife, who worries about the secret G-string buried in her flabby husband's underwear drawer.
Suffering ritual-humiliation for the sake of loved ones, these men pawn their dignity for economic survival. Cattaneo allows the script to hint at the social and fiscal conditions endured by the working-class under Thatcher, but mostly he avoids politicizing the material. Instead, he aims for rowdy, laugh-out-loud passages about awkward pseudo-debauchery. Perhaps The Full Monty settles for rather broad, coarse humor, but it has intensely pleasing charms and Cattaneo gives it an unexpected deadpan consistency. He exposes the comedy of shame, and then the comedy of shamelessness.
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