The Full Monty

A rough-hewn but gentle comedy, especially beloved by women (who love to hoot at the unlikely strippers). Robert Carlyle, a very long way from Trainspotting, is Gaz, an out-of-work steel worker who needs to make some quick cash or else lose joint custody of his son. Gaz and a few other blokes on the dole notice how much money (and how many women) the hunky Chippendales dancers pull in at the local pub; they decide to train as strippers who promise to deliver “the full monty” (full-frontal nudity). The training sequences are hilarious, as is much of the only-in-England dialogue (“Anti-wrinkle cream there is; anti-fat-bastard cream there is not”). All but one of the men are pudgy or skinny or old, and the movie makes the subtle point that men aren’t often judged by the same rigorous physical standards that they place on women — except when they shake their booty in front of hundreds of drunk lasses. Carlyle proves an engaging actor with amazing range; Tom Wilkinson (who was in Priest with Carlyle) as a desperate, laid-off supervisor too frightened to tell his wife, and Mark Addy as the flabby, impotent, insecure Dave, are funny and touching. Only demerit: the generic score by Anne Dudley (of the Art of Noise) — it sounds like the tinkly stuff I used to hear in the theater before a movie started. (Inexplicably, it won an Oscar for Best Musical/Comedy Score.) The choice of songs (Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing,” Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part Two,” Tom Jones’ cover of Randy Newman’s “You Can Keep Your Hat On”) is much better than the score. Cinematography by John de Burman. With Steve Huison, Paul Barber, Hugo Spier, Lesley Sharp, Emily Woof, Deirdre Costello, and Bruce Jones. It was a solid little art-house hit for Fox Searchlight and did well when it expanded to the plexes. A few years later it became a Broadway musical.

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