A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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 | , ,

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