The Full Monty: Fully Exposed Edition Peter Cattaneo

The Full Monty (released in 1997) famously relates the story of six unemployed working men in hideously depressed Sheffield, England, who, led by the scrappy Robert Carlyle, resolve to pull themselves out of insolvency and depression by putting on a strip act starring themselves. In retrospect, you can see why the film became such a worldwide hit, spawning not only an inevitable Broadway musical but also a whole subgenre of British comedy (think Waking Ned Devine and Calendar Girls) in which plucky underdogs assert their self-worth through nutty schemes. Simply put, it works. The Full Monty very cannily balances broad comedy and pathos, "piss-taking” and desperation. Beginning with a convincing pastiche of an early ’70s travelogue short extolling Sheffield’s economic miracle before moving to the grimy present, with the heroes stealing girders from an abandoned factory, the film has a palpable, even stifling, sense of place that anchors it, as do the performances, with Tom Wilkinson especially fine as the haughty ex-foreman who can’t bring himself to tell his wife he’s on the dole. You find yourself developing a rooting interest in the men. The final strip scene is as exhilarating, even cathartic, as you want it to be, with the routine displaying just the right level of "crapness” (the director’s word) to give it the proper comedic balance. Even if the final withholding of the men’s full-frontal exposure — the promised "full monty” — plants it firmly within mainstream movie dictates, the film skilfully avoids the egregious sentimental excesses you could imagine in the Hollywood equivalent. This special edition DVD comes loaded with extras, including an informative director’s commentary, deleted scenes, TV spots, and a whole second disc of featurettes covering the script, the numbers, the film’s massive success. The full monty, if you will. (Fox)