The Full Monty

Movie Review By Anthony Leong © Copyright 1998

With global box office revenues in excess of $1.2 billion, the $200 million monstrosity "Titanic" is running with a gross profit margin of 83%, which is a startling achievement, given that even the profitable summer blockbusters usually run with a 20 to 50% gross profit (and since exhibitor revenues and marketing expenses take about half of the box office, a film needs a gross profit of at least 50% to break even). However, this dwarfs in comparison to that of "The Full Monty", a little film out of England, modestly budgeted at $3.5 million. With a global box office in excess of $240 million (as of April 1st 1998, the gross profit of TFM runs in the neighborhood of 98%.


We're not doing this for a laugh, you know? I'm trying to get some bread together so that you and me can keep seeing each other.


TFM opens like many other recently released British films (such as "Brassed Off", "The Commitments", and "The Van"), with the protagonists doing their best to survive the scourge of unemployment. This time around, the setting is the city of Sheffield, England. The steel industry, once the heart of this working-class city, has downsized, and many of its former workers have been downsized with it, spending their days in a job center that has no jobs to offer them. Gaz (Robert Carlyle, who played the freakish Begbie in "Trainspotting") is divorced and he takes pride in his son-- however, he will soon be denied access to his son unless he manages to come up with the several months of child support payments that he owes his ex-wife (Emily Woof). Dave is Gaz’s overweight friend whose manhood is further challenged by a problem with impotence, and Gaz’s former factory foreman, Gerald (Tom Wilkinson), gets dressed every morning and pretends to go to work, unable to find the courage to break the news of his lay-off to his free-spending wife.


Why can't you just tell her?
How can I tell her after six months? A woman who wants to go skiing for her holidays?


One night, while out with his son, Gaz spots a local pub featuring a show by the Chippendale Dancers, which has the women of Sheffield lining up around the block. And so he reasons that if the Chippendale Dancers can make money stripping down to their knickers, surely there’s money to be made by blokes willing to strip down all the way, right down to ‘the full monty’. As he brings his plan to fruition, Gaz enlists the help of his friend Dave and the dance-savvy Gerald, as well as the talents of several other umemployed men. Horse (Paul Barber) is a middle-aged black man that can cut a rug with finesse, despite having a bad hip. Guy (Hugo Speer) can’t dance, but has some ‘hidden’ talent waiting to be exposed. Finally, there’s the suicidal Lomper (Steve Huison). Together, they learn to overcome the paralyzing fear and shame that dominates their government-subsidized existence-- not only do they publicly shed their clothing, but they also shed the wounds that have befallen their pride.


They're cheerin' out there. You did that. Now get out there and do your stuff!


TFM is a bittersweet comedy that effectively mixes pathos and humor in copious amounts. Performances are strong among the troupe, making it very easy to sympathize and cheer for these wannabe strippers. Add to that several great comic moments (mostly arising from the troupe’s lack of choreography and the awkward situations they end up) and a soundtrack chock full ‘o dance hits of the Seventies, and you have one enjoyable romp. Just try to leave the theater without a smile on your face…


Excuse me… but no one said anything to me about the full monty.


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