A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 198 – The Full Monty

The Full Monty – September 14th, 2010

It’s been ages since I put this in. There’s no particular reason. I really enjoy this movie and it’s full of a lot of fun bits. There’s good music, good acting and six bare male butts (and some banana hammock action). It inspired Warwick Davis and his father-in-law to put together The Half Monty, a little person show that Davis claims did quite well (even if the cast did question his booking choices once or twice). It deals with some serious stuff in with the funny stuff. There’s humor and okay, some of it is definitely comedy of embarrassment. But it’s okay! There’s something about it that makes the cringing worth it. In all honesty, I’m not sure why I haven’t put it in for so long. No good reason. It was even still in its wrapping, so even though we’d both seen this, we’ve apparently not watched it together since at least when I was in college.

Going into this movie for the first time, the only actor I recognized was Robert Carlyle, and the only thing I’d seen him in was Trainspotting as the psychopathic Begbie (making his line in this movie about looking like a killer all the funnier). As Gaz, out of work and late in his child support payments to his ex-wife, Carlyle is far and away a different man than I’d seen him play before. Along with his friend Dave, Gaz has come down to stealing girders from the old steel mill to make a little cash. He’s well behind in his payments, has no job prospects, and is desperate to keep the contact he has with his son, Nathan. Dave is out of work too, but things don’t seen quite so dire financially. Instead he’s depressed, having decided he’s not really worth much of anything, leading to a growing distance between himself and his wife. Gaz lights upon the idea of stripping to get some quick cash. Him and Dave. Of course they’ll need a few others.

They save the lonely Lomper from committing suicide and recruit him because he has a car and a place to rehearse. They recruit their old foreman, Gerald, because he can dance. They hold auditions for more and get themselves Horse, an older gentleman who’s certainly the most talented dancer of the bunch (and they do all wonder why he’s called Horse), and Guy. Guy can’t dance. Guy can’t sing. But Guy is young, hot and apparently hung. And so the group is set and the rest of the movie follows the guys as they rehearse, bicker, talk about costumes, try to score a place to perform and attempt to go about their ordinary lives without letting on what they’re doing.

You know, when you think about it, this is really a depressing movie in places. It’s hilarious in parts, but well, only one of the group has a job, and it’s not a very good one. Gaz is in danger of losing what contact he has with his son. Dave’s marriage is crumbling and his wife is desperate to figure out how to save it. Gerald’s been lying to his wife for six months, letting her go on spending and planning holidays and pinning his hopes on getting a job before she needs to know. Lomper’s taking care of his elderly mother and until he met Gaz and Dave felt like he had no mates at all. Guy and Horse seem to be okay in the personal life department, but both had clearly reached the bottom of the barrel by the time they auditioned for Gaz, Dave, Lomper and Gerald. The picture painted of the movie’s setting, Sheffield, is a bleak one. And yet the movie’s a hopeful one in amongst the humor and the bleakness.

Aside from the obvious humor of these five “regular” guys stripping in their home town and all the funny moments that part provides, what I love about the movie is seeing this group of guys really become mates and work together. They show up at Gerald’s and chat (more about that in a moment), but what really struck me about it was when Gerald’s wife finds out and Gerald shows up at Gaz’s flat with a bag of his things in hand. These were guys who started out loathing each other and almost come to blows more than once in the beginning. When the group gets arrested for indecent exposure (you knew that had to happen) there are some great moments where they critique each other’s dancing on security tape footage while two of the group race off in their G-strings, hopping garden walls and climbing through windows. When Lomper’s mother passes away the whole group comes to the funeral. And once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, it’s fun to see the reactions of the people around the guys.

Of course, as I said, there’s plenty of humor. There are loads of throwaway lines and funny looks between the guys. Guy’s insistence on trying to run up a wall, like in Singin’ In the Rain, when he’s not at all able to. Dave shoplifting Flashdance. Dave’s reaction to the welding in Flashdance. Horse’s explanation of how the group needs to move while dancing. It’s all very funny. There’s a scene where they’re all waiting for their dole checks and Hot Stuff comes on the radio and suddenly they’re all dancing in line. It’s maybe a two minute scene and there’s no dialogue, but it’s one of the funniest moments in a movie full of funny moments.

There’s a moment where the guys talk about how they’re worried the women who come to see them will laugh at them. Call them names or insult their bodies. Dave points out that none of them think about a woman’s personality when they’re critiquing her tits. Gerald states that “fat is a feminist issue” but can’t explain what that means. It’s played for laughs, yes, but I found it to be an interesting note for the movie to make. I hadn’t really expected the movie to address double standards at all, but there it is. Not that it goes far in depth, and it does tend a bit towards “but what about the MEN?!”, but I was pleased to see it.

So really, while it’s a lighthearted movie overall, with plenty of raunchy humor and naked bums, there are some thoughtful pieces of dialogue and acting here and there. There are some plot threads left unfinished, making it clear that the point of the movie is the stripping, not the family matters. But for all that it’s a good, funny movie and would probably be worth watching even if it wasn’t just for the end.

September 14, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment

The Full Monty

September 14, 2010

The Full Monty

We needed a simple fun movie for tonight, and this movie delightfully fits the bill. There just aren’t too many uplifting and funny movies about out of work stiffs turning to stripping to make ends meet. Maybe it’s just something that couldn’t be done more than once since any other attempts would be seen as copy cats. So I suppose it’s a good thing that they did such a fun job with this first attempt.

The movie follows two friends, Gaz and Dave, who have been out of works for six months since the steel mill in their hometown got shuttered. Gaz is a schemer who always has some kind of graft in mind. Dave is his mate who gets roped into all his doomed schemes. Gaz’s ex is threatening not to let him see his son because he has no job and is a generally bad influence. When the Chippendale dancers come to town Gaz hits on a brilliant scheme; he figures that it should be an easy gig to take off his clothes for money and he somehow convinces Dave to go along. Before long they’ve banded together with Lomper, a bloke they stop from committing suicide, and Gerald, their old foreman who knows a little about dance. At auditions they add on Horse (or so he call himself) because he can dance, and because they figure a black man named Horse must be well hung, and Guy – because in the audition he drops trou and shows that he’s got the equipment to be a stripper. Altogether they’re just a group of regular guys, not dancers or bodybuilders or anything, which is most of the appeal of the movie.

The movie goes to a lot of effort to provide everybody with a plot thread that makes you care about them and want their unlikely endeavour to succeed. Gaz just wants his son to be proud of him. Dave has issues because he’s a husky guy and he thinks his wife is no longer attracted to him. Gerald can’t bring himself to tell his wife that he’s been out of work for six months. Lomper and Guy end up actually falling in love (which is nicely handled and pretty much accepted by the other guys.) Horse is insecure because he’s not as well equipped as the other guys think he must be.

A word here about Robert Carlyle who plays Gaz. Before I saw this movie I saw Trainspotting. Many, many times. So I was kind of used to his performance as the ornery git Begbie. I love an actor who shows that kind of range and is able to play a complete bastard and a kind of wounded kid of a man with great dreams but no real plans. He’s not easily pigeonholed. Kind of like my favorite chameleon/actor Gary Oldman. Speaking of which – when I first saw Tom Wilkinson (Gerald) I immediately turned to my wife and asked “What have we seen him in recently?” Turns out that he was with Gary Oldman in Batman Begins as the nasty mobster who runs Gotham. It’s the heavy Northern accent he has here that threw me. (Lots of planets have a north.)

There are a lot of great scenes here. There’s the auditions. There’s the lads dancing almost involuntarily in the dole queue. There’s Dave’s wife confronting him when she discovers his thong underwear and assumes he’s been having an affair. The movie is full of humor, tenderness and catchy music.

What’s great here is that it turns out that dancing actually is a way out of the doldrums for all these mismatched fellows. It’s an escapist fantasy at first for them to think that they could strike it rich without having to do much real work, but as the film goes on they actually start to band together and learn to enjoy the experience. It’s the performance (and the notoriety it brings) that saves these guys. And I’m always a fan of “dance conquers all” as a theme for a film.

I kind of wish now that we owned the unofficial companion piece to this – Calendar Girls. It might be that I have to go shopping tomorrow.

September 14, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment