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The Full Monty (1997)

Film review: The Full Monty (1997), directed by Peter Cattaneo

thefullmontyIf you’ve never heard of this film, you’ve missed something. It opens with a chirpy film about how Sheffield is on the go, sometime in the 1960s or so, and it’s growing to be a metropolis and everything’s great – all thanks to the steelworks. Roll on 25 years, and it’s a different story. The steelworks have all but shut down, and unemployment is high.

One of the ex steelworkers is Gaz (Robert Carlyle), who is on the dole, trying to get money to help with paying for his son, Nathan (William Snape). When Gaz’s ex wife wants sole custody because Gaz can’t pay up, Gaz decides there’s something very drastic that needs doing.

His best friend Dave (Mark Addy) has his own problems with being unemployed. His self-confidence is shot, rendering him impotent, and is a strain on his relationship with wife Jean (Lesley Sharp).

When Jean, and most other women in town (or so it would seem) go to a performance by the Chippendales at a local venue, Gaz has an idea. Why would women want to see a bunch of “poofs” when they could see real men instead? And, more importantly, pay good money to do so? Maybe they could do a one-off striptease performance, and maybe dare to bare it all?

Getting some other men on board – Lomper (Steve Huison), Horse (Paul Barber), Guy (Hugo Speer), and former foreman Gerald (Tom Wilkinson) – the men start to rehearse. And things roll on from there.

The whole concept of male striptease is perhaps a bit of a giggle, and while most of us can probably see the appeal of a bunch of young, well-toned blokes covered in oil, there’s no denying that it’s not what most blokes look like – and to be honest, ladies, don’t we quite like our men to be a bit more natural to look at?

What I think they do really well is the characterisation. How some people struggle to admit to their partners they’ve lost their job, how others get fed up being on the dole when there’s no jobs going, and how soul-crushing long-term unemployment can be. You do lose a lot of confidence in yourself, which in turn doesn’t help you to get a job (or to change jobs if you’re in one you hate).

Gaz is a right geezer, but his heart’s in the right place (sort of), and you can’t help but rooting for him to be able to keep seeing his son. And while this heartfelt story is unfolding, you’re laughing. The Full Monty is a comedy, and it’s a darn funny one at that. Partly because you’re giggling at the absurdity of it all, much like their test audience, and parts because it’s just proper comedy.

It’s a great film, always putting a smile on my face.

4 out of 5 garden gnomes.

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel. Will get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted along the way.

3 thoughts on “The Full Monty (1997)

  1. This is really a sweet film. Loved it when it came out.

    What some of your reviews remind is how easy it is for films that were minor sensations in their time to recede into forgetfulness. I had to laugh in response to your “in case you haven’t seen this” because everyone I knew saw it at the time.

  2. servetus: Haha, yeah, that’s very true. Find it hard to believe there are people who haven’t heard of it, really!

    I enjoy writing (and watching) films that aren’t brand new, because even if it’s not the latest thing on the scene, most of them are still worth talking about. 🙂

    DeeJay: I agree. I hadn’t seen it in years either.

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