‘The Full Monty’

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The full Monty was released in August 1997 and cost £2.2 million. After six months of its release the film took £47.8 million at British Box offices. Britain’s biggest hit screen comedy, brilliantly adapted for the stage, took Broadway and the West End by storm.

By May 1998 the film earned more than £140 million worldwide. In March 1998, ‘The Full Monty’ received 4 academy awards and came away with 1 Oscar. At the British Academy film and TV awards (BAFTS), the film defeated ‘Titanic’, ‘LA Confidential’, and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to award at the best film. Newspaper headlines concentrated on the film as a comedy and it was marketed as a comedy-Billbood adverts showed a naked actor covering his private parts what is more is that the video cover displayed a zip at half-mast on the giant ‘M’.

Gary a great dad, but unemployed, broke and divorced and has just two weeks to raise enough cash to keep seeing his son. He can come up with only one money raising scheme, and his mates say it can’t be done but desperate times call for desperate measures and with bags of grit and determination, the guys become stars overnight.

All the characters, the friendship, laughter and tenderness of the film that the whole world fell in love with is brought trillingly to life on stage. With a heady mix of razor-sharp humour and toe-tapping pizzazz, this is musical comedy at its most heart-warming.

The guffaws begin early, when unemployed steelworker Gary Scoffield (Robert Carlyle) learns how much men can make for wearing very little, or less. That inspires him to put together Yorkshire’s own version of the Chippendales, comprised of former steelworkers like himself and his best friend Dave (Mark Addy). Scoffield and Dave lack only two things to qualify as Chippendales: talent and looks. But the alternatives – living on the dole and spending their days at the local ‘Job Club,’ where no one ever finds a job – convince Scoffield that it’s worth a try, and Scoffield spends most of The Full Monty trying to convince Dave.

Along the way they slip from one silly episode to the next; fixing the motor of a former co-worker without realizing he is trying to use his car to commit suicide; auditioning other laid-off steelworkers to the sounds of “J’taime”; recruiting their hated former foreman, Gerald (Tom Wilkinson), as their choreographer/dance instructor; and performing a Punch-and-Judy show with lawn elves to make sure Gerald doesn’t get hired away from them.

It sounds like a one-joke plot, but director Peter Gatteano and writer Simon Beaufoy come up with enough variations on the theme to keep the plot rolling between commit bits.

There’s the poster-hanging sequence, in which the “dancers” learn for the first time that they’ll be expected to display “The Full Monty,” and one dancer’s follow-up phone conversation with his doctor, which can only be described as revealing. Gatteano even manages to wring some laughs from a straight travelogue of Yorkshire which runs behind the opening titles and provides an ironic counterpoint for the depressing scenes to come.

Moreover, Gatteano and Beaufoy provide each steelworker with the motivation to continue in the face of failure and humiliation; Scoffield will lose custody of his son if he doesn’t come up with £700 for back child support right fast; Gerald’s house is being repossessed a piece at a time because he hasn’t told his wife that he’s lost his job; and Dave just can’t seem to find the fiscal or physical wherewithal to keep his marriage going, despite his wife’s best efforts.

The Full Monty is far from the perfect film. It overplays some elements: Dave’s attempts to lose weight and Scoffield’s attempts to keep Dave in the act. And occasionally it loses its edge and goes for the cute: the cutaway shot to Scoffield’s face when he sees his dancers break into their steps while waiting in the unemployment line. It would be a funnier, more subtle scene without it.

In the film there were several themes that were explored. One of the main themes explored in ‘The Full Monty’ is unemployment. The first scene in the film is a documentary clip showing Sheffield in the 1970s. This scene has been included in the film because it has a connection to the film which is that the main scene in the film is a disused factory which was being used in the documentary, in addition to this the following scene is set in a disused factory similar to the documentary clip where men used to work. I think that this scene was included to show how employment used to be like. This scene is a contrast to the whole film in terms of employment. This reinforces the theme of unemployment throughout the film.

Most of the film is set in a job club and a disused factory. They are set in the job club because the main characters are unemployed. The disused factory is where the characters go to socialise. These factors again reinforce the theme of unemployment.

All the main characters in the film are unemployed which again emphasises the theme of unemployment. This has a serious impact on their lives in terms of money. For example Gaz (Gary) is unemployed this causes problems within his life in particular it at one point in time it weakens his relationship with his son. Gaz feels that him being a man he must provide for his son this is a typical male role-to provide for the family. Gaz comes to a point where he is so desperate for money that he borrows money from his son’s account. All these little things in the film alongside with other factors emphasise the theme of unemployment. The theme of unemployment is the main theme which points out to us the reality of the film. This theme comes from life in Sheffield at the present time where unemployment was common. This is the main reason I think the film’s theme was unemployment along the fact of the film being set in Sheffield again tells us of unemployment in Sheffield and, along with other factors, the stereotypical lifestyle of people living in Sheffield at the at time in present.

Another theme explored in the film is masculinity. Firstly the traditional roles and identity of men has been eroded by unemployment evidence of this in the film is found when we look at the main characters as the main characters in the film are all unemployed and when we look at where the film is set we again find that the theme of unemployment has been emphasised. Secondly the men in the film are having to find a new form of identity by becoming the ‘New Man’. This, again, includes men providing for the family and their struggle in doing so with the situation given e.g. Shortage of money. They have to change their attitudes towards men and women’s roles in society. All the main characters feel inadequate and useless. For example Gerald feels useless as he doesn’t have a job and can’t fulfil his wife’s needs. The situation is made worse as he hasn’t told his wife of his unemployment because he feels he can’t tell her as he is embarrassed of what she might think of him. Although at the end of the film the men gain some pride and dignity as they feel that they have achieved something and are successful in terms of money.

The various settings in the film help to create and reinforce certain themes and ideas explored in the film. The Full Monty is set in Sheffield, an industrial city in the north of England. The opening of the film establishes the economic status of the city’s past. The promotional short opens the film which makes a direct link to the location. Sheffield is shown to be a thriving place, but it is clear from the cinematography that this was supposedly shot some time in the past.

One of the main settings in the film is the disused factory which is where some of the men used to work producing steel. The factory serves to highlight the present situation of the main characters in that a working life is part of their past and, like the factory, they too are redundant. However, as well as being focused around ‘work’, the film is more to do with identity away from the workplace, as the men search for a way of asserting themselves as individuals now the traditional roles have been eroded. This links back and represents one of the main themes in the film which is unemployment.

The men come here as a place to socialise and later on in the film they carry out most of the rehearsals there to produce a new ‘product’. The new ‘product’ is stripping and their attempt to make money out of it. When the men use the disused factory they are trespassing and therefore it is illegal. This shows that they are breaking the accepted rules or codes for male behaviour. These are two different types of codes one is by law and the other is unwritten but is clearly known. The law is that they should legally not be there and the unwritten part is that men do not dance for women. The men cope with this by thinking of the bright side which for them is the money and by listening to sexy music to alter their mood.

When the men rehearse at the factory they are carrying out work in a place that used to be a work place but in a different way. This work is being carried out in a dangerous and lonely place this symbolises unemployment as it is not a proper work place and as a cause for the men it reminds them of their financial situation which causes them to work harder and better because it is a constant reminder to them. I think that the men working in the disused factory is one of the main reasons that the men succeed in their money making scheme.

Another setting in the film is Gerald’s House. The house and its contents show Gerald’s middle-class status for example the ornaments and gnomes. The house is used by the main characters to ‘perfect’ and routine their bodies in the process of preparing them for the stripping which is the main plot of the film. I think that this is realistic in the way of the furniture and generally the contents of the house but it is over-stereotypical as this house represents the whole of Sheffield and it may not be that every house consists of the similar contents.

Another setting in the film is the fields above Sheffield. The men spend much of their time playing football on the glass and training here. I think that the men come here as it is a place where they can go and reflect on their lives and what is going on and forget reality of their financial situation and turn to nature. The men coming to the fields is free and no possessions are needed which is another reason why I think they come here because it does not cost any money. This emphasises that they have little to occupy their lives. The city is always shown out of focus in the background. It is shown because it is there but at the same time it is out of focus because the men are here to forget about their lives, worries, problems and the city they live in and play, exercise and relax.

Another setting in the film is the Job Club. The Job Club is a crowded and dark place making it unnatural for all of them except Gerald who wears a suit and generally fits into that formal environment. The Job club has facilities which the other men are not familiar with for example the computers and desks. All the men exclude themselves from Gerald because they see him as someone higher than them and for this reason it is that I think they do what they do to him. I think they mess Gerald around because they think he is capable of a job and they are not, therefore they want to ruin his chance of getting a job because they feel they can’t get one and they do not attempt to get a job because they feel uncomfortable in a formal environment.

There are several characters in ‘The Full Monty’. Gaz is the central figure in the film as the film is built around his very active and bubbly personality. He is unemployed and has barely enough money to live off. It is this reason why he is barely aloud to see his son Nathan. He has strong morals, these are shown by his relationship with his son. Later on in the film he is denied access to Nathan as he is arrested. His financial status does not help the matter. At the moment he is being torched by the fact that Nathan is living with his mum and step dad. Gaz is very strong mentally and is the driving force throughout the film. Everyone looks to him for answers. He attends the job club.

He wears Jeans, a leather Jacket, and has floppy hair. His Jeans tell us he is a worker, his leather jacket shows us his rebellious side while his floppy hair express to us his innocence.

Dave has a cameo role in the film. He is best friends with Gaz. Dave also attends the job club. Dave feels very pressured by this as he has a family. He also keeps beating himself up about the fact he is over weight. He is aware that it is a disadvantage in society. This really knocks his confidence in being successful and becoming the new ‘product’ and in performing his role of providing for the family. Eventually he chickens out of the performance because of his weight and does the sensible thing and gets a job as a security guard at the place he often robs. You could say that he is one of the more sensible members of the group as he pulled out of the play. You can tell he is always pre-occupied by his weight.

Gerald has a cameo role in the film. Gerald is the member who is most ashamed of the fact he is unemployed and has not told his wife. He has kept her in the dark for six months. He is the oldest in the group and most mature as he is trying desperately hard to find a job before his wife finds out. When his wife finds out she finds out in the worst way through the bailiffs and as a result of her finding out she moves out. He gets sick of Gaz and Dave’s stupid behaviour. He is seen in a wider range of locations this signifies his previously stronger position in the world. His costume helps us in reading his character. His clothes includes of a shirt, tie, jumper and anorak. From his costume we can see that it is very formal. I think he wears these clothes as a disguise of his unemployment. By removing this disguise he learns to face the truth about his financial situation.

Lomper plays a supporting role in the film. Lomper, like the rest, is unemployed. He has no friends and is a social misfit. He is trapped as a carer for his elderly mother. Lomper also plays a comedy role. He was going to commit suicide but Daz saved him. Lomper is a homosexual and as the film progresses he ends up going out with Guy, whom he meets when practicing to strip for ‘The Full Monty’. His costume tell us that he is old fashioned and stuck in the past just as he is stuck with looking after his mother. This also suggests his exclusion from the rest of the men.

Horse is another character. He is black and plays a supporting role in the film. He is a good dancer even though he is quite old. On one hand his character reinforces the stereotype of black men along with his dancing ability on the other hand he speaks and dresses like a northerner and his life is reduced to a similar life as the other men. His costume tell us that he is smart this makes him stand out.

Overall I think all the characters and what goes on in their lives and the feelings they experience from what goes on in their lives shows us the realistic side of the characters and the film but the characters actions are exaggerated to create humour. For example when Dave is trying to loose weight, he wraps him self in cling film and he is feeling angry and depressed of his weight and size-this is the realistic part of the scene, the comedy comes from the fact that he is eating a mars bar at the same time.

Music plays an important role in the film, to help reinforce certain meanings such as the emotions and feelings of various characters during the film. For example ‘Come up and see me’ by Steve Harley, is played at a happy moment when the men return to the outdoors as a group. The music in the film is mainly pop music from the 1970s however brass band music is also used in the film. This emphasises the northern setting in the film. It also emphasises the working-class position of most of the characters because brass bands are associated with factories and mines. The music has a narrative function which reinforces the meanings in the film. For example ‘You sexy thing’ by Donna Summer fits in to the scene because it is sexy music and they are stripping and putting this type of music really gets them in to the mood and in a way makes them think they are in fact sexy. This adds to the humour of the film because when doing this they are not sexy.

And ‘You can keep your hat on’ by Tom Jones again fits in to the scene of them stripping gets them in to the mood making them think they are sexy which again adds to the humour of the film because when dancing to this music they have not suddenly become sexy even though they may think it.

Other examples of when music is used are when they are stripping in the club, when the men return to the outdoors as a group and also at Lompers Mothers funeral the bass band plays. The death of the brass bands and the death of the factories are symbolic in that when one went the other followed.

Different moods of music are also included in the film. For example good music, dance music, sing-along music, sad music, symbolic music and sexy music these are used to help build up the atmosphere in different parts of the film. For example if they were dancing dance music would have been played. I think that throughout the film the use of music in this way was very successful.

Muzak is also used in the film; it is used in the north as many factories had their own brass bands and it was a common past time and at the supermarket as background music. This is included in the film to show how life is like and to express the boring atmosphere of everyday life in Sheffield by echoing the realistic atmosphere of the place.

The close up shot is a recognised piece of film code that is used during moments of extreme emotions to communicate how a character is feeling. A major theme in The Full Monty is the development of the relationships between the main characters and the bonds that form as the men find an uneasy comfort from being in the same situation. It takes a long time for this unity to build but it is clear that as the film draws to a close and the comedy reaches a climax that the men have reached an understanding of, and an empathy with, each other’s anxieties.

Although The Full Monty is set in Sheffield there are very few scenes of the city itself and these are generally in long shot, suggesting that the focus is on the men themselves and their private, emotional lives. Many shots are close-ups of the men’s faces which serve to highlight their inner crisis and turmoil. Close up is generally used on the main characters of Gaz, Dave and Gerald. For example Gaz is shot in close up when his wife comes to pick up his son this shows that he is feeling disappointed and embarrassed. This suggests the reality of the film.

Dave is shot in close up when he is trying to loose weight and he wraps him self in cling film and he is feeling angry and depressed of his weight and size-this is the realistic part of the scene, the comedy comes from the fact that he is eating a mars bar at the same time. This effective in that it shows the reality of Dave’s problem while at the same time the comedy of it.

Close up is used on Gerald when he is being interviewed for a job at that moment he was feeling confused, distracted and angry because the rest of the men were displaying a gnome show from the widow. This again mixes realism and comedy in one scene. The realism is the interview and the gnome show is the comedy.

I think that close up has been used throughout the film where it has achieved its purpose successfully during moments of extreme emotions by communicating to the audience how a character is feeling while at the same time showing humour to the audience this has been achieved by mixing realism and comedy in to one scene.

‘The Full Monty’ is based on the British new wave Cinema of the 1950s. These films were set in the north of England and concentrated on the hardship of the working class, especially men. ‘The Full Monty’ has this in common with these films but it is different because it uses comedy. The realism of the film comes from the purpose the film was made-British new wave Cinema of the 1950s. Examples of social realism in the film include the building up of Gaz and Nathan’s relationship, Daz’s weight problem, Gerald getting a job and Lompers mum dying, these are all things that happen in everyday life. Examples of comedy which is employed in the film includes the main part of the film which is stripping this itself is a form of comedy, when Gaz, Daz, Lomper and Nathan perform a gnome show, when they pull faces at Gerald’s dance classes and many more small comedy scenes. These scenes are very effective in seeing the bright side of life in Sheffield and some of them did make me laugh.

Occasionally there are scenes which are serious but funny at the same time. An example of this is near the beginning of the film when they are stealing some steel and they are trying to cross the river and Nathan gets upset with Gaz and leaves them in the middle of the river. The realism is the fact that it is stealing and that Nathan has fallen out with Gaz. The comedy comes from Gaz being left in the middle of the river and a passer by walking by and just saying ‘Hello’.

Despite there being more scenes of social realism than comedy ‘The Full Monty’ was marketed and advertised as a comedy rather than a piece of social realism. Overall however I think that the film is social realism because there are more scenes of realism and the plot of the film is based on realism and not comedy and I believe that the comedy is included to simply ‘brighten the atmosphere up’ for the benefit of the audience and I think that the film is successful in this.

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