The Full Monty

1997, Movie, R, 90 mins

Review

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Riding in on the same British wave of sentimental social realism that washed THE VAN, BEAUTIFUL THING and BRASSED OFF upon these Yankee shores, Peter Cattaneo's feature debut is an enjoyable, ultimately inconsequential crowd-pleaser. In the depressed English steeltown of Sheffield, unemployed steelworker Gaz (Robert Carlyle) bemoans the closing of the factories and the ensuing slow death of the red-blooded English male. Strapped for cash and faced with losing visitation rights with his young son if he can't make his child-support payments, Gaz has a rare moment of inspiration after a traveling band of male strippers comes to town: He decides to form his own local troupe of exotic male dancers. They're a pretty unsightly bunch -- not the kind one is likely to pay to see au naturel -- but Gaz and his mates are prepared to offer what Chippendale's doesn't dare: the full monty, i.e. total nudity. And what better way to prove one's manhood? The Brits must be demanding a bit more treacle with their grit these days -- a trend arguably tied to the increasing prominence of director Mike Leigh, whose films display a wellspring of affection for its working-class heroes. But where Leigh usually gets the proportions just right, Cattaneo serves his pathos with a heavy, greased hand, and the heartstrings slip right through his fingers. The film is fun and its sensitive-guy concerns seem sincere enough (the botched gay romantic subplot notwithstanding), but make no mistake: Despite all the talk about the dole, child support and the perils of masculinity, this is extremely lightweight fare. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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