My husband did not want to watch The Full Monty with me. I think he imagined it to be filled with naked men running around shaking their goods with a British accent. He watched the entire film with me and hardly had a fit, but he won’t admit to liking it yet. Believe me, if he didn’t like it, he would have left and played video games, no problem; but he did stay till the very end, which makes a stronger recommendation for men than I could make by myself.
There’s so much more at stake here than just the taboos of male stripping. The mill that used to be the main job source in town is closed and none of the men can find jobs. They spend their time in a sad little jobs center, stealing scrap metal and drinking. With all the women able to work and support themselves, their male counterparts feel inferior and to add insult to injury, a one night strip act excites the ladies more than their men. The whole idea to become strippers came from Gaz (Robert Carlyle) who wants to start stripping so he can pay for custody of his son, Nathan (William Snape) who’s alongside the men for support and working the boombox. His friend Dave (Mark Addy) is hesitant due to his pudginess and their lack of any dance skills. When they find out their old boss Gerald (Tom Wilkinson) is taking ballroom dancing with his wife, they recruit him to learn some moves. Gerald is desperate for money since he’s been out of work six months and hasn’t told his wife yet. So the three men plus little Nathan learn to dance, recruit three more dance members and become the talk of the town.
The way The Full Monty flips the gender roles is wonderful. Society is accustomed to women being desperate enough to strip, not men, certainly not this bunch. These men are pale, skinny, old and fat. One can pass for the typical male stripper, but he makes his pals look worse. In a scene where the guys glance through a nudy magazine, they pass their judgments, “Her boobs could be smaller.” Dave makes the haunting revelation that women will be passing the same judgments on them. Suddenly, Horse (Paul Barber), the graying black guy, is frantically calling the company who produces an enhancement device, frantic that it isn’t working.
The member who is most self conscious is Dave. From the beginning he knows he’s the fattest member of the group and immediately classifies himself as hopeless. It gets so bad for him that he drops out of the group and can’t even find enough spunk in himself to be intimate with his girlfriend, who’s never said a negative word about him. He’s told, “Fat, David, is a feminist issue.” Clearly not. The negative self body image isn’t just a woman’s problem, and that’s one of the best things about this film. Even better, is when the ladies love Dave’s full body and he’s ballsy enough to strut his stuff.
The Full Monty is fun, hilarious, uplifting and a great time. The material could have easily turned into a pointless sex romp, but the desperation of the situation gives the story a well rounded body. If you can stand the adult themes and seeing a few guys butts I recommend this. Really, in half the time of Titanic you will have twice the fun and triple the laughs.
“No one said anything to me about the full monty!”