The Full Monty is a 1997 British comedy film. It tells the story of six unemployed men, four of them steel workers, who decide to form a male striptease act (à la the Chippendale dancers) in order to gather enough money to get somewhere else and for main character Gary to be able to see his son. Despite being a comedy, the film also touches on serious subjects such as unemployment, fathers' rights, depression, impotence, and attempted suicide. The Full Monty is set in Sheffield, England, and stars Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, William Snape, Steve Huison, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber, and Hugo Speer. The screenplay by Simon Beaufoy was adapted from an original story by co-producer Paul Bucknor. The film was directed by Peter Cattaneo.
Fast forward to a quarter century later to the same city but in a far different light than that of the early-1970s. The once-successful steel mills of then have grown brown with rust, rolling equipment has been removed, and the lines are silent. Gary "Gaz" Schofield (Robert Carlyle) and Dave Horsefall (Mark Addy), desperate to make some money, are inside their former workplace trying to get a steel beam out of the mill with the intent of selling it. They attempt to get the beam out of the mill by securing it to the roof of a car, which promptly sinks. Undaunted, they try to salvage the beam, but their attempts prove futile.
Gaz is later informed by his ex-wife that she intends to take court action against him for the child support payments that he's failed to make since losing his job. Compromising the situation further is Gaz's son, Nathan (William Snape), who reluctantly spends time with Gaz. He grows tired of his father's seeming lack of motivation to do something with his life and get his act together.
While Gaz, Dave, and Nathan are walking down a street, they see a line of women gathered for a Chippendales show outside a Working Man's Club they frequent. Intrigued by the women's willingness to stand in line for a striptease act, Gaz is convinced that his ship has finally come in: he decides to organize a similar act of his own, with the intent to earn enough money to pay for his child support obligations.
The first to join the act is gauche and lonely Lomper (Steve Huison), a security guard at Harrison's, the steel mill where Dave and Gaz once worked. After Lomper finally loses his job long after the mill shuts down, he tries to commit suicide by asphyxiating himself in his car through carbon monoxide poisoning. Dave pulls him out, strongly resisted at first by Lomper's stubborn-minded protests. He ultimately has no rebuttal to Dave's more relentless logic and with the reassurance of his new-found friends behind him, Lomper joins the fledgling lineup. His rescue and inclusion in the group gives him a newly-optimistic and confident outlook on life.
Next on Dave and Gaz's list is their former foreman, the middle-class aspirant Gerald Arthur Cooper (Tom Wilkinson), whom they witness performing at a sequence dancing class with his immaculately-groomed wife. They later approach him about giving them lessons, but Gerald rebuffs them with insults, telling them he's on his way to a job interview and has no time for their coarseness and irreverence. Gaz and Dave tail Gerald to the interview, where they distract him from outside the office window to the point where he blows the interview. He confronts them both at the local Job Club, loses his temper and physically assaults Gaz as he reveals that had he been successful, he could have continued to conceal his unemployment from his wife (who is still spending whilst not knowing her husband has been out of work for months).
A despondent Gerald leaves Job Club and sits on a park bench, all but emotionally defeated. Gary and Gaz patch things up with Gerald and tell him of their scheme. With literally no options left, Gerald agrees to be the act's choreographer.
In a sequence of darkly comic scenes, various former co-workers of Gaz and Dave perform a strip-tease for them as their audition. One of the auditioners is invited to sit down after he flunks; he declines, saying that his children are outside waiting 'in the car' and that 'this is no place for kids' before glancing over at Nathan (recruited by his father Gaz to work their stereo) before leaving. Other auditioners are however hired: whether for their comprehensive dance knowledge (whilst overlooking evidence of advanced arthritis) in the case of Barrington 'Horse' Mitchell (Paul Barber), and jaw-dropping, euphemism-inducing penis size in the case of Guy (Hugo Speer).
As the men practice, doubts continue to creep in about whether this is the best way to make some money, due to their individual insecurities over their appearances (Dave is overweight, for example). When the men are approached on the street by local women acquaintances who have heard of their show, Gaz declares that their show will be better than the Chippendales dancers because they'll go "the Full Monty" - strip all the way - hence the film's title. Dave quits less than a week before the show, deprecating himself as a 'fat bastard' whom no one would want to see in the nude - including his wife, Jean. During a dress rehearsal in front of Horse's family, the rest of the men get literally caught with their pants down in the abandoned factory they use for their practice, causing an unconventional chase scene involving most of the main characters running from their pursuers wearing orange leather thongs. Two of the strippers, Guy and Lomper, successfully escape, and fall into a homoerotic embrace after they climb into the window of Lomper's house (The two are later seen holding hands at the funeral of Lomper's mother). The police show the men the surveillance tapes from the factory and soon their secret is out. All seems lost, with the entire city of Sheffield knowing who the members of Hot Metal are and the cast ready to quit, until the owner of the pub informs Gaz that he has already sold 200 tickets for their show.
With not much left to lose, and a sold-out show, the men decide to go for it for one night (including Gerald, who has got the job from the interview he thought he'd failed). Dave finds his confidence and joins the rest of the group, stripping to Tom Jones' version of You Can Leave Your Hat On (their hats being the final item removed).
The cast allegedly agreed that all six of them would really do the "full monty" strip at the end in front of 400 extras, provided they had to do only one take. Therefore, the choreographer was hiding in front of the stage, just beyond the camera view, screaming directions at the cast during the closing scene.
The film's title is a phrase generally used in the UK to mean 'the whole lot', or 'the whole hog'; in the film, the characters use it to refer to full nudity - as Horse says, "No one said anything to me about the full monty!".
Other slang terms are used in the film. Some such as nesh (meaning a person unusually susceptible to cold) are used in Northern England as a whole. Jennel (an alley) is local to Sheffield: it is a variation on the word "ginnel", which is in full versions of the Oxford Dictionary and is used in many parts of England.
In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted The Full Monty the 49th greatest comedy film of all time.
In 2007, The The Full Monty was rated the 2nd greatest British comedy of all time.
The opening sequence of the Sheffield promotion film from 1971 is taken from City on the Move, a film commissioned by Peter Wigley, Sheffield's first ever publicity officer, to convince people that Sheffield was a centre for tourism and commerce. City on the Move was produced and directed by Jim and Marie-Luise Coulthard and showed a modern thriving city that was rapidly developing thanks to the successful steel industry in Sheffield. However, the film went virtually unnoticed until the Coulthards were approached about some of the footage being included in The Full Monty for a payment of £400 which they accepted. In 2008, City on the Move was released on DVD under the new name The Reel Monty.
An episode of The Drew Carey Show titled "The Dog and Pony Show" featured Drew and the gang imitating The Full Monty by performing a striptease to replace Mrs. Louder's purebred show dog Lucky, who was neutered after Drew, Lewis, and Oswald found him in Drew's house, mistook him for a stray, and took him to the vet to have his fur clipped and be neutered. Several members of the films cast have a brief cameo near the end of the episode.