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With: Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy, Steve Huison, Paul Barber, Hugo Speer, Lesley Sharp, Emily Woof, Bruce Jones
Written by: Simon Beaufoy
Directed by: Peter Cattaneo
MPAA Rating: R for language and some nudity
Running Time: 91
Date: 08/13/1997

The Full Monty (1997)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This is one of the oldest plots in the world, "let's put on a show," used in Shirley Temple movies, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movies, episodes of "The Brady Bunch," and even The Commitments. Only this is the first time I've seen it used with male strippers.

Written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty is a real hoot, with many real laughs that aren't all given away by the trailer. It concerns a group of steel mill workers unemployed since the closing of their plant. The Chippendales dancers come to town and the ladies all go crazy. So these guys figure that since the Chippendales dancers are just fantasy, and they're the real thing, so why can't they do it?

The rest of the plot you know: the dancers are assembled, some of them have second thoughts, the whole thing goes up in smoke just a few days before show time, the leader loses faith, then gets talked into it seconds before show time. The leader is played by Robert Carlyle, who was excellent in Trainspotting and Ken Loach's still-unreleased Carla's Song. He is proving himself to be an excellent and versatile actor. Here he manages to play a funny but sympathetic character, walking the line between a straight man and slightly crazy.

There are some very funny jokes that I'm dying to give away, but I won't. The movie also has some satisfying and minor dramatic plot twists, touching on issues of sexuality and honesty. The gray and drizzly mood of the Scotland is captured, but without any of the serious depression or political issues that The Commitments touched on. The Full Monty is more like a fun fluffy Hollywood movie from days gone by, with some fresh updates.

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