The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Few comedies stand the test of time – but this one does

with 18 comments

I always approach comedies that are older than a couple of years with caution. The risk that they’ll stink is too big to be neglected. You’d better be prepared to grab your nose and run in the opposite direction. With a few exceptions, they age so fast. More than once have I revisited movies and TV series which I remember as hilarious, only to discover that they’re not funny at all. On the contrary I’m often embarrassed to find them full of sexist and racist jokes, and I ask myself how I could have missed that. I guess we’re more stuck in the conventions of our time than we want to admit to ourselves. It’s just that we can’t see them, until we get a certain distance to them in time.

Considering those experiences I hesitated for a second to get back to The Full Monty. This is a British comedy from 1997 about a bunch of unemployed guys in Sheffield. Inspired by the Chippendales, they put together a dance routine to perform for the ladies at a local club, mainly to earn a few bucks, since the situation is getting pretty desperate for some of them.

I watched it at the time it came out and I remember that I really loved it.

But one day fifteen years had passed, just like that, and suddenly I wasn’t so sure anymore. Guys performing some kind of strip dancing, wasn’t that pretty dated as a gag regarded, on par with “the balloon dance”? The taboo around nakedness or men doing “un-manly” things such as dancing isn’t particularly strong anymore. And with the taboo gone, what’s there left to laugh about?

The question was: did I really want to find out? Did I want to revisit The Full Monty and see how it had stood the test of time? Or should I leave it alone, as a nice and beloved memory of a movie I used to love?

When I found it on Netflix earlier this week I thought about it – for about two seconds. And then I decided to go for it.

This turned out to be the right decision. The film hadn’t deteriorated a bit. If anything, it was even better than I remembered!

Perfect balance
The mix between humor and drama is just so perfectly well balanced. You don’t laugh at the men; you laugh with them. Or rather smile with them, because the humor is pretty low-key. But under the humor there’s also a great deal of seriousness in it. Either they end up showing the “full monty” or not, they certainly dress off in front of the camera as human beings. We get to know them – and love them – with all their fragility, all their faults and weaknesses. And yes, I did tear up, more than once. And yet it never falls into the pit hole getting unbearably sentimental.

I guess you could call it a “feel good  movie” in one sense, but since it’s set in a gritty British working class setting, the limit is far lower than the sky. There’s no simplistic message suggesting that anyone can become anything they want in their lives if they just make an effort. This is far more down-to-Earth and therefore much more convincing and inspiring than the fairy-tales they love to tell us on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

I have a hard time finding something negative to say about the film. I guess I could hold it against it that it it’s unlikely that it would pass a Bechdel test. But again – I think it’s understandable and defendable considering the topic.

The Full Monty gets my full appreciation – still standing strong after fifteen years. For a comedy that’s pretty awesome.

The Full Monty (Peter Cattaneo, UK, 1997) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

November 2, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in The Full Monty

18 Responses

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  1. So very true… I love this movie. Just the right blend.

    Vicki Love

    November 2, 2012 at 5:40 am

  2. I remember that film fondly too 🙂 If you liked The Full Monty, have you seen “Brassed Off”? (It’s also about people in a mining town when the mine gets closed, but in this one the colliery brass band goes off to win a competition.) I remember it as being similar in tone, and very good.


    November 2, 2012 at 7:32 am

    • I saw it when it came out and I remember loving it even a little bit more than I loved The Full Monty! But I need to rewatch it. My memory is blurry.


      November 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm

  3. 5/5? Awesome! I am glad you liked this one so much Jessica


    November 2, 2012 at 9:35 am

  4. I remember loving this film as well. But you are right about how most comedies don’t age that well. On the other hand though, I really do love some of those classic Hollywood screwballcomedies such as His Girl Friday. I guess it’s because these films treat their audience as grown-up, intelligent people, and they rely mostly on whitty and sharp dialogue instead of sexist jokes and farts.


    November 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    • Sadly I think some of the old screwball comedies are kind of sexist as well since they stick to clichés about women vs men, which I find rather tiresome and offputting. But this one is really wonderful in that aspect. It feels modern.


      November 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm

  5. I remember seeing this years back and thinking it was ok. Maybe I should give it another shot.

    Dave Enkosky

    November 3, 2012 at 12:36 am

    • I think this one might get better when you get a little older. Give it a try!


      November 5, 2012 at 7:49 pm

  6. While I wouldn’t place this at the top of my favorite comedies list it certainly is a fun little movie. I love the scene where they are waiting in line, a song comes over the PA, and they start to unconsciously move their feet in rhythm to the music.


    November 5, 2012 at 1:55 am

    • Oh, I love that scene too. It’s so small and simple and yet it makes me smile every time I see it.


      November 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm

  7. So glad it withstood the test of time for you, I think it is a true gem even after many revisits.


    November 5, 2012 at 9:55 am

    • Yay! This was a shared love! Five stars review are pretty rare coming from you. So glad to see you love it too.


      November 5, 2012 at 7:41 pm

  8. […] comedies don’t stand the test of time. Jessica feels The Full Monty does. Now streaming on Netflix […]

  9. That moment when they’re all waiting on the unemployment line and “Hot Stuff” appears on the radio and they unconsciously revert to their routine……so wonderful. Funny, sentimental, true, the whole deal. Pure cinema. Glad you took the risk and re-visited it. When those re-visitations pay off, it’s special.


    November 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    • I know! It’s so small and simple and irresistable. I took a chance re-visiting it and it really paid off this taime.


      November 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

  10. Good write-up as always Jessica. As much as im a big fan of Robert Carlyle, i couldnt quite get into this one. It was okay though.

    (Some useless info) A couple of years my partner took my daughter to Carlyle’s house for his son’s birthday party. (Unfortunately, I was working that day). She only wishes now that after realising how nice a guy he was that she brought along some “Hot Chocolate” to put on during the party just to see what Carlyle’s reaction would be. LOL

    Mark Walker

    November 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm

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