The Full Monty is about as
substantial as a red satin G-string, the key garment of the film.
And, yet, this threadbare charm is exactly what it's got going
The Full Monty is all about the
gimmick, nothing more, nothing less. The gimmick in this case is
that six very unlikely Englishmen are going to strip. What makes
them unusual exotic dancers is that they are each in some way too
old, too fat, too clumsy, too shy, or too dignified. All they
have, really, is sheer will or, at least, their willingness to go
"the full Monty," their chosen slang for completely
The striptease is the harebrained scheme
hatched by Gaz (Robert Carlyle), an out-of-work steelworker, who
happily breezes the days away with his chubby pal Dave (Mark
Addy), either smoking and playing cards down at the employment
office, kicking a soccer ball around, or engaging in petty
thievery. Unfortunately, none of these pull in any real income,
so when his ex-wife tells him he can't see their son until he
pays his share, he's forced to act. Gaz comes to the idea of
stripping when he passes a club filled to capacity with women
screaming over the Chippendales dancers, and he thinks, Why not?
So Gaz sets about gathering his crew. Of
course, there's Dave, and he quickly picks up Lomper (Steve
Huison), mainly because he and Dave have saved him from suicide,
plus he's got a place to practice. They are joined by Gerald (Tom
Wilkinson), their stuffy former foreman who knows ballroom
dancing, and the simpleminded Guy (Hugo Speer), who's chosen for
a certain rather large physical attribute and in spite of his
lack of dancing skill. Finally, there's Horse (Paul Barber), a
man well past his prime but who still knows how to do the bump,
the mashed potato, and other dances.
The Full Monty is a genial,
easygoing film. Instead of overwhelming with too much slapstick,
director Peter Cattaneo and writer Simon Beaufoy take their time
establishing each of the characters, introducing the thing that
eats at their egos so that the audience can feel some attachment.
The men seem to keep circling in place, as they meet various
crises that threaten to shut down the one-night-only gig -- the
fear of embarrassment and an arrest for indecent exposure, among
them. And just as you're convinced that The Full Monty
really will go nowhere, suddenly there you are, and there are the
men wearing nothing but their smiles.