If Margaret Thatcher’s economic reforms have done nothing else, they’ve created a new genre of British film the saga of the disaffected nonworker.
In such movies as “Brassed Off,” “The Van” and “Twin Town,” able-bodied Britons are portrayed as the dinosaurs of a working class for which there is no more work.
And that’s exactly the problem for the residents of the Yorkshire mining town featured in “The Full Monty,” an often hilarious little film from Thatcher country. For the men of this town, downsizing means being on the dole.
Which, for most of them, means being less than a man.
Humiliated in front of his son one too many times, Gaz (Robert Carlyle) gets an idea: If well-muscled Chippendales types can command a room full of paying women by stripping down to their drawers, then he and his mates should get even more by going all the way.
By going “the full Monty.”
That this plans makes no sense whatsoever, of course, is the basis for much of the film’s humor. Those whom Gaz recruits for his show are a motley crew of middle-aged, paunchy, pasty-complexioned ordinary guys who wouldn’t win a Mr. Universe contest in their own homes.
Still, after some initial reluctance, they press on, rehearsing to Donna Summer and other disco tunes while trying to keep the whole plan a secret.
One of the funniest moments comes when, motivated by music coming through the unemployment office’s sound system, the would-be male strippers begin to move subconsciously to the dance beat.
There’s little more to the film than that. Each man has his own personal crisis to resolve, Gaz with his son and ex-wife, Gerald (Tom Wilkinson) who pretends that he goes to work each day, and Dave (Mark Addy), whose waning interest in sex is threatening his marriage.
But mostly this is secondary material. The main plotline concerns whether, in the end, the men actually will go through with it.
The suspense of that, along with the innate charm of the characters, make “The Full Monty” a good bet to be a Spokane favorite.
By the way, the title is a common English phrase.
One story concerning its origin involves legendary World War II British Gen. Bernard Montgomery, who always, no matter where he was, had himself served a full English breakfast. The other emanates from an English store named Montgomery’s that specialized in selling a full three-piece suit.
Whatever its source, the phrase’s meaning is clear.
Oh, and one more thing: When director Peter Cattaneo appeared at last summer’s Seattle International Film Festival, where his film was one of the audience favorites, he reported that he was able to get the cast to do the final scene only once.
If you catch his meaning. …
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “THE FULL MONTY” *** Locations: Lincoln Heights Cinemas Credits: Directed by Peter Cattaneo, starring Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy, Lesley Sharp, Emily Woof Running time: 1:30 Rating: R