Robert Carlyle, The Full Monty

To judge from current evidence, there were two courses of action available to unemployed men in the economically squeezed northern England following Margaret Thatcher’s reign: They could make the best bleedin’ brass-band music in Yorkshire, as they do in “Brassed Off!” Or, as they do in “The Full Monty,” they could become strippers, Chippendales-style, turning their other cheeks to every woman who wants more than un-buff, hard-pressed blokes can provide. (“The full monty” means buck naked, in Brit slang.)

The comic moments in this ingratiating bit of malarkey from director Peter Cattaneo and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (both TV trained, both making their feature debuts) are winning. But they’re also infected with a kind of laughing-and-stripping-through-tears pathos that, annoyingly, makes you feel cheap for encouraging all the prancing. (One trendy subplot: Once stripped, two of the good ol’ lads discover they have Feelings for each other.) The best parts of the package are the strong performances by Robert Carlyle (the menacing psychopath in Trainspotting) as the strippers’ ringleader and versatile character actor Tom Wilkinson (Sense and Sensibility, Priest) as a proud middle-management type afraid to tell his wife he’s out of work. There’s also a cool cover by Tom Jones of Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On.”

The Full Monty
  • Movie