In the decaying steel mill town of Sheffield in Northern England, friends Gaz and Dave, both now unemployed and on the dole after the closure of most of the town's steel mills, steal scrap metal from the closed mills to supplement their meager income, often with Gaz's twelve year old son, Nathan, on the days Gaz has custody. Still, Gaz is behind in child support payments to his ex-wife, Mandy. When Mandy threatens to sue for full custody in that Gaz can't support Nathan in any way, Gaz, seeing the long line up of women clamoring to get in to see a touring Chippendales styled dance troupe, thinks he can solve his financial and thus custody problems by forming his own male exotic dance troupe with some of his fellow un- or underemployed ex-mill workers. In addition to Dave, he has in mind middle-aged Gerald, their former foreman who has not told his spending-happy wife Linda that he has been unemployed for six months, and Lomper, a mild-mannered security guard who they just met in the ...Written by
I want to start off by saying, if you're looking for slap-shtick comedy and low- rent toilet humor, this is NOT the movie for you. It has its moments of "belt-in- the-face" fun, but they are consistently grounded in the real problems the lead characters face -- unemployment, loss of family, lack of self-respect, fear of ridicule and a bleak future that promises even greater failure. This is not a Farrelly Brothers kind of story...and that is what makes it so special.
Gaz is broke, on welfare, lives in the projects, is behind on his child support and is threatened with losing his son to his ex-wife unless he can pull together 700 pounds (about $1100). But this is Sheffield, England -- once a boomtown but now a deadening city of shopping malls and garment mills, where the factories (and the guys that worked in them) are empty shells of themselves. The women have jobs; the men have job fairs. Into this comes a touring "Chippendale's" dance troupe (aimed at women only; after all, they have the spare money) and an idea is born. Gaz and some mates will strip all the way, give the ladies "the full monty", as a way to earn some quick change.
The idea is preposterous. Only one of the six men in the new dance troupe is good-looking enough to pull it off (pun intended); the rest are either fat, skinny, old and/or ugly. But the movie's gentle suggestion is that not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder, but so is self-respect...and in following through with their plans, they gain a LOT more than just 2000 pounds each.
Robert Carlyle is good as the anchor of the piece, always pushing and planning and cajoling and begging and even stealing, as need be, but it's the rest of the cast that makes this movie work -- from Tom Wilkinson as a manager ashamed to tell his wife he's lost his job to Mark Addy as a man who's so ashamed of how fat and unattractive he is, he's driving his wife away right down to Hugo Speer and his joyful "let's have a blast" attitude.
"The Full Monty" is a gem of human comedy aimed not at the gut but at the sense of hope we all carry. I recommend it for anyone who needs a lift.
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