Sheffield. Unemployment. Men battling for their self-respect in a post-industrial waste land. Like Brassed Off, this turns feel-bad clichés on their head. The men here don't make a sentimental stand by blowing their own trumpets: their shot at self-respect involves stripping to the bare essentials - out-raunching the Chippendales before a horde of noisy local lasses. Carlyle's assured with the self-deprecating humour of the unlikely bump 'n' grind, and the understated, but still palpable desperation underlining the men's plight - and his able cohorts have enough problems of their own to stop matters developing into out-and-out farce. With the women virtual bystanders, there's some attempt at addressing manhood-in-crisis - squaring loss-of-breadwinner status with the finale's cheering reassertion of sexual identity. Along the way, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy slips in an affectionate gay sub-plot, makes things awkward for himself by exposing Carlyle's pubescent son to the chaps' developing routines, and never quite manages to convince the head as much as the heart. Still, director Cattaneo thrives on the sheer incongruity of it all.
The Full Monty
Cast and crew