A movie about six unemployed steel workers, set in the depressed industrial north of England, doesn’t exactly sound like the recipe for a successful comedy but believe me, The Full Monty is a terrific film. It is British independent film making at its best.
Driven by a desperate need for cash, and inspired by a local performance of the male “dance” show Chippendales, Gaz (Robert Carlyle) comes up with a plan – surely he and his mates can make a few quid by taking off their clothes for the ladies? Just one problem – there is not a good physical specimen amongst them! Indeed, as their old boss Gerald is keen to point out to Gaz and one of his mates – “he’s fat, you’re thin, and you’re both ****** ugly”. Despite their physical shortcomings and their total lack of skills on the dance floor, the group agrees to go “the full monty” – or to strip totally naked – in order to attract the largest possible audience and earn the most cash.
Along the way to their one-night only performance, there are some hilarious scenes – my favorite is the impromptu dance in the queue at the unemployment office – but there are also some more serious notes. The film deals with the importance of work to self-esteem, the despair and hopelessness of industrial decline, and the lengths some will go to to hide their situation. But these more serious themes only add to our sympathy for the characters, and don’t hinder the progress of a very entertaining and comical storyline.
The humor is down to earth and full of colorful language (not exactly Jeeves and Wooster stuff), but if you don’t mind a good dose of swearing and some challenging accents, you will enjoy a hilarious and poignant view of British life. The sound track is jolly good too – a great mix of seventies dance tunes to tap your feet to!