Former steelworker Gaz (Robert Carlyle) risks having his son taken from him, unless he can find a way to gather the money to pay off the maintenance he owes. He enlists the help of his reluctant best friend Dave (Mark Addy or, if you rather, Robert Baratheon) and starts looking for men to join the group, as well as getting their former foreman to teach them to dance.
The characters come together with one goal; to make as much money as they can through stripping. Gaz is doing it all for his son, doing it so he can keep spending time with him, and we see their relationship warm up over the course of the film as Nathan realises his dad isn’t as useless as he seems, and when it becomes apparent that one of his money making schemes might just work for once.
Carlyle is, as always, brilliant. Every time he’s on screen you really feel for his character, as he struggles to become a man worthy of his son’s love. The men in the film are all pretty much down on their luck, unemployed and struggling with other problems. Dave’s insecurity comes in the way of his marriage, while Gerald, the foreman and dancer, desperately tries to keep his unemployment hidden from his wife.
One of the best things about the film is the fact that these are all real, normal men. They’re flawed, physically and mentally, and none of them have it easy. They’re not coasting through life, and their problems aren’t thrust of them during the film. The problems are all there anyway, even if they are just under the surface, and will perhaps remain even after the film ends. But after the end, even if those problems remain and these guys are still unemployed, they now have hope. They have friends around them, in each other, and a sense of having done something worthwhile. There’s no big romantic plot here – Gaz is not going to get back with his wife – but instead, the plot simply pulls them along to do one thing, at one time, and leaves it at that. There’s no big Hollywood happy ending. But there is a sense that these characters aren’t as desperate and alone as they started out.
Nothing against Hollywood, but this film would be completely and utterly different if it had been American. Guys with perfect bodies, maybe one overweight one thrown in for good measure, who spend the film acting like they don’t have great abs under their shirts. If it had been Hollywood, Gaz would have most likely ended up with his ex-wife and everything at the end would be perfect. As it is, we have a group of guys who seriously panic about their bodies as the prospect of stripping draws closer. Too old, too big, too scrawny. And it’s right there on screen for us to see. It’s what makes the movie great, because it’s not their bodies that draw the audience to the club at the end; it’s simply the promise of seeing the full monty.
The Full Monty is more than the story of six strippers. It’s the story of men who no longer have their traditional roles of breadwinner and family man to fall back on. It’s light hearted, sure, but with some real things to say underlining it. (Or maybe I’m reading too much into something, again.) It’s witty, funny, and is well worth a watch. So, check it out.