The Full Monty (1997)

the full monty

“Gentlemen… the lunchbox has landed.”

The Scoop: 1997 R, directed by Peter Cattaneo and starring Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, Steve Huison, and William Snape

Tagline: Six men. With nothing to lose. Who dare to go…

Summary Capsule: Six out of work steel workers decide to make extra money stripping. I’d try to be funny, but isn’t that pretty amusing right there?

Lissa’s rating: Just don’t even think about eight out-of-work Mutant staffers doing a rendition of this movie… I’m not that sure Kyle can dance anyway.

Lissa’s review: You would think a review for a film about strippers would be easy to start, wouldn’t you? Especially a really good film about strippers that got clobbered by Titanic in the Oscars? That should merit screams of outrage. But it just doesn’t.

I love The Full Monty. It’s one of my favorite movies. But even in my love of it, I have to admit that it probably didn’t rate a Best Picture Oscar. I mean, come on. It didn’t meet ANY of the requirements. No one dies. No one’s handicapped in any way (well, except maybe morally). No one is persecuted, and it’s not a biography, as far as I know. And it commits the cardinal sin of Oscar-winning… it’s funny. It was great that The Full Monty was nominated for Best Picture, but what chance could it possibly have had against Titanic?

It didn’t, but oh well. What’s done is done, and when it’s all over The Full Monty is the DVD sitting on our shelves and being watched over and over again. (Although I do confess I love –looking- at Titanic. It’s just best watched with the volume off.)

The Full Monty is as opposite of Titanic as you can get. Instead of the lush opulence of first-class quarters on a ship, the story takes place in working class England (or Scotland? I’m not sure). Worse than that — a steel town that’s gone bust. The entire film has a bit of a gritty, dirty look to it. There are no beautiful costumes — the men in the story actually dress like real men. Their clothes are worn and not always in style, and it’s about as real as Titanic seems fantastical. Except that Titanic was (loosely) based on true events (well, at least the ship sinking part), and The Full Monty has a ridiculous premise.

Gaz (Robert Carlyle) and Dave (Mark Addy) are a pair of desperate friends. Unemployed and uninspired, they sort of laze through their days, appearing at a Job Club but making no move to find a new job. They are not Leonardo DiCaprio pretty-boys (well, if you think Leo is pretty, which I don’t), but the pair of them have a great buddy-chemistry that carries the movie. When Gaz needs to come up with seven hundred pounds to keep joint custody of his son, he suggests to Dave that they become strippers.

“Strippers? You?” It’s a common line of dialogue, and you can see why. As Gaz and Dave rally their troops, it’s the most unlikely bunch of strippers you’d ever see. Gaz is too skinny, and frankly, not terribly attractive. Dave isn’t a muscle bound stud either, and has the innocent face that belongs on the Pillsbury dough boy, not on a Chippendale. Gerald is a formal, stiff — well, he’s played by Tom Wilkinson. That should tell you enough. Lomper is red-headed, pasty, and utterly unattractive. Horse might have been cute… 20 years ago. And Guy, well, Guy’s cute all right, but boy, he’s pretty dumb.

If you have a Y chromosome, you’re probably holding your computer at arm’s length and saying “Why are you trying to talk me into seeing this movie? Ugly guys stripping? SO not on!” Heck, even if you have two X chromosomes, that thought probably isn’t far from your mind. But don’t worry — that’s the basic premise of the entire plot. There is no way this caper should succeed, and the boys know it. Which is exactly why they decide to go for the full monty (means “the whole thing” for us Americans).

It’s utterly absurd, and absolutely lovable at the same time. I don’t know why I like the characters; in actuality I probably wouldn’t. But they have their own charm, and what really impresses me is the job the ensemble does. There’s not a single weak performance in the lot. The dialogue is quick and witty, and even the kid character Nathan (William Snape) is pretty likeable. There’s no stagnated romantic side plot — the mentions of romance either fit well into the story, or are just quick and amusing. But most importantly, The Full Monty makes me laugh. Long, hard, and loud. Especially at the scene in the unemployment office. If you’ve seen the movie, I’ll bet you’re snickering right now. If you haven’t, trust me — the movie is worth seeing for this little scene alone.

What I also like about The Full Monty is it does brush on a few more serious issues: trust, inadequacy, responsibility, etc. The heroes of the movie are not particularly admirable. In fact, I’d probably slap Gaz’s face if I met him, and tell Gerald he needs to take the stick out of his — well, never mind. But their flaws make them more endearing characters and gives them room for development. And while the boys are all still far from saints at the end, they’re plausibly better people. Learning morals by stripping. It could be big. Interestingly, the morals of stripping or watching strippers are never quite addressed. Oh well.

Funny, good soundtrack, something to say, and strippers. Funny strippers. Definitely a great rent. You’ll never listen to “Hot Stuff” the same way again!

Does this really need a comment? Honestly?
Does this really need a comment? Honestly?


  • Okay Dave, let’s get one thing straight. That scene of the chick in Flashdance welding? She’s arc welding. To my knowledge, you don’t use acetylene in arc welding — you use electricity, and it’s the current that melts the metal. Now, I was never very good at it myself, but I’m pretty sure I’m right on that one. (Although I will concede that she’s not a terribly good welder.)
  • In November 1998, Prince Charles re-enacted the unemployment office scene on national television with some young members of the Prince’s Trust.
  • A number of American cinemas had special leaflets printed containing translations to some of the British slang left in the U.S version of the film so that audiences would be able to follow the dialog more easily.
  • I read someplace that they actually did the full striptease in front of 400 extras. Needless to say, it was a one-shot deal.
  • The film was adapted into a 2000 Broadway musical of the same name; the characters and setting were Americanised.
  • The one chick didn’t pull her underwear all the way back up?
  • Gaz’s proper name is Gary. The Mum’s new lover is named Barry. Rhyming names. How cute.
  • That it’s a good idea to take the change out of your pockets when stripping?
  • How quickly Flashdance ends? Or was Gerald just fast-forwarding a lot?
  • The offside trap, which I don’t really quite get, is a great way to explain dance moves.
  • Shoes and socks do not make for graceful stripping.
  • Snippets from the British-American dictionary:Dole: unemployment
    Widges: um, think about the movie and the context.
    Quid: a unit of money. Ask Rich for conversions.
    The Full Monty: the whole thing (full-fledged nudity)
    Mates: friends (not what you were thinking)
    Bloody: You don’t know this one? That’s sad.

Groovy Quotes

Nathan: But what if we get caught?
Gaz: You don’t get a criminal record until you’re 16. Just don’t tell your Mum.

Dave: Right. Times ten quid by a thousand, and you’ve got… well, a lot. A bloody lot.

Dave: Drowning. Now there’s a way to go.
Lomper: I can’t swim.

Gaz: Gentlemen… the lunchbox has landed.

Lomper (to Gaz): Where did you learn to be an ace sewer, then?
Nate: Prison.
Gaz: Thanks, Nate.

Police officer: Gary, my friend, no bugger robs pipes in the buff.
Gaz: We do. Don’t get your clothes dirty, do you?

Horse: No one said anything to me about the full monty!

Dave: The less I eat, the fatter I get.
Lomper: So stuff yourself and get thin!

Gerald Arthur Cooper: Fat, David, is a feminist issue.
Dave: Well, what’s that supposed to mean, when it’s at home?
Gerald Arthur Cooper: I don’t bloody know, do I? But it is.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Billy Elliot
  • Trainspotting
  • A Knight’s Tale

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