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The Full Monty  [DVD]
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This hugely successful British comedy was a hit both in its homeland and the States. After witnessing the hysteria created by visiting strippers The Chippendales, unemployed Sheffield steelworker Gaz (Robert Carlyle) hatches a plan to make his fortune. Along with pal Dave (Mark Addy), he forms a strip act made up of a mixed bunch including depressed security guard Lomper and their former foreman, Gerald (Tom Wilkinson), a ballroom dancer and now also unemployed, who they persuade to choreograph the group. Once they have practiced their routine they set out to reclaim their dignity by going 'the full monty' in their act.
Overtaking Jurassic Park as the UK's biggest box office attraction of 1998, and winning one of its four Academy Award nominations, The Full Monty was the surprise world-wide smash of the year, it's unexpected success reflecting the underdog inspiring message of the film itself. Leading a strong cast, it was Robert Carlyle's appearance here which propelled him to sex-symbol superstardom and brought him high-profile Hollywood roles in Angela's Ashes, The World is Not Enough and The Beach among others. The story revolves around the attempts of five unemployed grafters from the recession-hit industrial North to reclaim some of their dignity, which they attempt to do by the unlikely expedient of becoming male strippers. The film follows their struggle to become The Chippendales for real women, from their shambolic beginnings to their euphoric debut appearance in front of 300 hungry lasses! Saucy and spicy with a rocking soundtrack, The Full Monty tells of the triumph of spirit over adversity, reminding us that everyone can be special, no matter what their shape ... or size. This is British independent film making at its very best, exhibiting the heart-warming truthfulness captured by many UK directors, yet eschewing their often gloomy negativity for an altogether more optimistic outlook: it's a modern fairy tale in which all five Cinderellas get to go to the ball. --Paul Eisinger --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Beyond that, there is so much more.
First of all, the film is very very funny. The sight of a group of men of dubious attraction and in varying stages of unfitness trying to become a dancing & stripping troupe is just the start. Side stories like the theft of garden gnomes and the act of offering to fix a man's car so that he can gas himself are classic examples of off-beat British humour.
There is also a lot of warm human interest in this film. We see the relationship between Gaz (Robert Carlyle) and his son and his ex-wife. Also, the relationships between his friends and their wives.
In all cases, the men had lost self respect and, through the act of former workmates getting together again and making new work for themselves they recaptured their self respect, regain the respect of others and most importantly to them, they realise that they are important to their friends and families.
Often films with such a lot of fun and feel good factor leave me feeling that they are too sickly sweet and aim at some lowest common denominator. This was not like that at all, I enjoyed every minute of it.
I first saw this at the cinema and I have never before seen such a happy audience at the end of a film.
When male strip show act, The Chippendales, come to Sheffield and the local women pay in their droves to see the show, Gaz and the rest of his unemployed pals pick up on an idea to make some cash. A one off show where they themselves will strip on the stage, the difference being that this lot will go for the "Full Monty", totally naked dancing!
The Full Monty is a very winning comedy, it's preposterous in premise of course, but in amongst the frivolity and outright daftness, lies a very clever, and functional tale of personal relationships. In spite of what some American reviewers have said over the years, the picture is awash with very funny gags, it's just perhaps that the untrained none British eye isn't seeing the jokes? For instance, during the famous dole queue dancing sequence, have a look at the guy standing behind Tom Wilkinson, who after witnessing Wilkinson do his Fred Astaire act, merely puffs out his cheeks and carries on waiting his turn! It's little touches like that that say so much about the divide between British and American comedy.
As I alluded to earlier, The Full Monty isn't just a comedy about unsightly men doing a strip tease. We have a group of men who each strive for something in their lives, be it strains at home or sexual identity, these guys are given sensitive emotional themes from which to regain some dignity. If there is a criticism here then it would have been nice to give the female characters a bit more flesh on their bones, but this really is about the boys after all. Backed up by a foot tapping soundtrack and boasting excellent performances from the cast, The Full Monty is a hugely enjoyable picture that rewards on repeat viewings, just keep your eyes peeled for sight gags you may have missed the last time is all. 8/10
Part of the reason this film is likeable is that humour and realism go hand in hand. From the depressing backdrop of an industrial town with high unemployment, Gaz manages to cobble together a troupe of six unlikely strippers, including a suicidal security worker, a man with a dodgy hip, and a well-endowed bathroom repairman. These guys aren't super-studs, they're just ordinary blokes who are willing to give it a shot, and maybe, just maybe, get rich.
The film begins with Gaz and his friend Dave becoming marooned on a partially submerged car in the middle of a canal (the unanticipated result of one Gaz's plans), and the originality of the comedy continues throughout. So fresh is the humour, that the occasional moments when it sinks to the level of slapstick and cliché, disrupt the natural feel of the movie. The funniest sequences involve the self-titled 'Hot Metal' strippers - who have trouble comprehending dance moves unless they're related to positioning on a soccer field - attempting to master the strip-tease bump and grind (accompanied by a fabulous soundtrack of retro tunes, including Donna Summer and Hot Chocolate).
Delivery and seller prompt would recommend