The Full Monty: Surviving Unemployment
The Full Monty is a 1997 British movie directed by Peter Cattaneo. It stars Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, and Tom Wilkinson. The movie didn’t have a great budget and it wasn’t expected to have a lot of success. Nevertheless, it scored big at the box office and enjoyed several Oscar nominations. Unfortunately for this film, it competed with Titanic. Therefore, it was totally eclipsed by the year’s major winner. Even so, it was able to take the Oscar for Best Original Score.
It’s come to be on a lot of lists of the best comedies of all time. This is especially true when the category is narrowed down to British films. The title, The Full Monty, is an expression used by several characters in the movie. In British English, it means complete nudity.
Change in Sheffield
The movie is set in the English city of Sheffield. It’s an area that had experienced an economic boom thanks to its metallurgic industry. Victorian houses were demolished in order to give way to the houses of the future and a population completely dedicated to industry made Sheffield a model city. It was where the world’s best steel was manufactured. That’s how The Full Monty starts. It shows us, in documentary style, the glorious and advanced city of Sheffield. This was a place where, aside from a lot of work, there was a lot of time for relaxation. That’s why its inhabitants lived happy lives.
After seeing the images of this documentary, we come to a very different setting. We’re still in Sheffield, but now we see it as depressing, down on its luck, and grey. It’s no longer the happy and prosperous city that was shown at the beginning. Factories are closing and the industry is changing and advancing at a faster rate than its inhabitants. What was one day a symbol of prosperity is now a reflection of poverty. Most of Sheffield’s inhabitants, especially the men, lived off of the factories. Due to the crisis, they’ve been laid off.
The beginning of an idea
Unemployment can make you fall into depression, just as we see in the city of Sheffield. We don’t only need a job to survive and pay our debts. Work also gives us a purpose, motivation, and a reason to get up every morning. The men introduced to us in The Full Monty are very different, but they’ve all got something in common: unemployment. This dramatic situation will lead to the development of what at first seems to be a completely crazy idea: to start a striptease show.
Creativity, freedom, and, above all, humor are the main ingredients of this movie. With a smile, it invites us to always find a solution – a way out. “Adapt or die” could be a perfectly fitting motto for these characters. Despite the initial fear that this adventure creates in them, they still decide to escape their situation in a very creative way.
Creativity in The Full Monty
Factories are forced to lay off their workers. The city of Sheffield, dedicated almost entirely to industrial activity, is dragged into decline. Unemployment is a situation that makes the inhabitants lose their status, dreams, and lives.
The women, on the other hand, are more independent day by day. They no longer need a husband to support them because they can do it themselves. The struggle for equality, sexual liberation, and independence creates women who are much stronger – more similar to men.
As such, they also want to see naked men. They also seek sculpted male bodies to liberate themselves and be able to see men with the same desire men viewed them. In Sheffield, the women commonly go to a striptease show where perfectly molded men dance sensually. This causes the liberation of the women’s most intimate impulses in the same way as with men. While these men delight the women, their husbands, ex-husbands, and other family members feel inferior and useless.
They’re not needed at work and their women don’t need them either. They’re no longer useful and, as a consequence, they become profoundly frustrated. However, desperation can become the perfect path to creativity and reinvention.
Gaz is divorced. He has no job and is in a lot of debt. His ex-wife has managed to change her life with a new man. Aside from all that, he lives with his son who doesn’t have a good relationship with him. At first, Gaz doesn’t understand the fascination that these muscular men incite in women. But he soon realizes that it can be a good business to help him get out of his current situation.
With the passage of time and technological advances, you sometimes have no choice but to reinvent yourself. This is especially true at certain ages. The Full Monty presents us with a group of men who are desperate. Some of them are depressed and have empty lives. However, despite those difficulties, they develop an idea. At first it seems crazy, but later we see that it will not only give them economic benefits, but it will also inspire them to confront their day-to-day realities.
Some of these men go through denial. We see it in Gerald, who was a foreman in a factory. He still keeps treating those who were his employees as if he were their boss. He doesn’t admit to his wife that he doesn’t work anymore and he doesn’t want to lose his status. Nevertheless, in the end, he decides to join the group with the other characters. They will slowly partner with each other to start a very unique type of show.
Beauty isn’t only for women
Aside from the creativity and improvement from that rough patch caused by unemployment, The Full Monty makes the men go through situations women live on a daily basis. How’s a fat guy going to get naked? How’s a man with wrinkles going to get naked? Who would pay to see that? Who would pay to see real men?
That’s when the self-consciousness arises. It’s when they feel the social pressure to be male 10s. At one point in the movie, we see these normal men look through a magazine with nude women. Some criticize their breasts, others praise them… This is how they start a conversation where they realize something. They realize that these same criticisms and that same tendency to view women as objects is precisely what they will be subjected to when they get naked in their show.
Many of them will start to feel fear – the fear of being judged. They’ll start to feel self-conscious. They’ll get on diets or start using anti-wrinkle creams. This is something completely normal for many women. Now, it will be women who judge them, objectify them, and criticize their appearance.
Popularity of The Full Monty
The Full Monty is a complete comedic gem. It’s an adventure where men who were involved in such a “manly” industry as metallurgy must learn to dance and seduce despite their circumstances, ages, or weights. They’ll see themselves subjected to female criticism in a society where women don’t need them anymore. They’re no longer so different from them.
This is a comedy that deals with the working classes and unemployment. This is, unfortunately, something that is very familiar to us these days. It leaves us with memorable scenes and a score worthy of an Oscar.
“It’s amazing how tiring it is doing nowt.”
-The Full Monty–