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
Alan Rickman turned down the role of Gerald. See more »
Whilst the guys are watching Flashdance, Dave criticizes the girl welding saying the mixture is all wrong and she's using too much acetylene. Shows how much he knows - she is actually arc welding. See more »
Unemployment is no joke (as an ex-pat Brit living and sometimes working in the US, I can confirm that with a vengeance). But sometimes, with a little vision and a lot of confidence (or desperation - take your pick), you can either find a way out of the depths of despair, or at the very least lighten the load a little, even if only for a short time. You take your pleasure wherever you can find it.
This movie will undoubtedly strike chords with those who have been unemployed long term, especially in the north of England (or in the Midlands or indeed anywhere. Depression - economic, social or clinical - knows no boundaries).
It's a smile, unless of course it *doesn't* strike a chord with you. Then you'll see it as a politically charged documentary with a few unnecessary laughs that ring very hollow.
But this isn't another Boys from the Blackstuff and I don't think it ever intended to be. The characters in this story are less focussed on pleading "Gissajob" and more inclined to say "Gissasmile". There is social commentary, yes, and it's well made (in my opinion, obviously), but the bigger message, I think, is that when life sucks - and it can do, most of the time - you don't have to give in to the feelings of utter despair.
You can fight back, you can refuse to be bowed, and for everyone in the awful predicament of being willing and able to work but being unable to find anyone willing to give you a chance, there is the possibility of finding a ray of sunshine, even if only temporarily, in an otherwise grey and depressing condition.
And it's those little rays of sunshine that help to give you hope. A laugh here, a giggle there, a bit of extreme silliness once in a while - it all helps keep you sane.
And that's what is enjoyable about this movie: it's the story of a group of men trying to stay sane even if it means losing some of their dignity in the process. And the one thing you notice towards the end of the story - and it's certainly capable of being true of real life - is that in raising their own spirits, the main characters here also raise the spirits of those around them.
They also remind me of myself and some of my friends. I could see myself taking part in something like this, albeit reluctantly (since I'm pathologically shy), just for the hell of it.
And doing something just for the hell of it is what makes this movie one of my favourites.
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