It has been 26 long years since The Full Monty first graced our screens. A truly uplifting tale about a group of men, down on their luck and not sure where their next pay check was going to come from they decided to put on a show baring all. The way in which it ended was a moment of triumph for the thrown-together middle-class workers had us feeling like they had it all in front of them and nothing was going to slow them down.
Fast forward to today, the entire cast is back together along with screenwriter Simon Beaufoy for an eight-episode miniseries. Unfortunately, the plucky optimism that the film left us with is shattered straight away. It is a vastly different world today. The UK like much of the planet is struggling through crisis after crisis without much of an end in sight and our band of merry gents are all struggling through like all of us. Still all together is Sheffield Gaz (Robert Carlyle) works in a psych ward but still grifting away to make an extra buck. Dave (Mark Addy) and Jean (Lesley Sharp) are married and working together at a local run-down high school, Lomper (Steve Huison) is now married to Dennis (Paul Clayton) run a small café together, Gerald (Tom Wilkinson) is the grumpy old sod that we all can inspire to be and Horse (Paul Barber) is struggling to make it through each day, though you wouldn’t pick it.
Throughout the eight episodes, there are moments of joy and laughs but ultimately The Full Monty is a look at the sad state of affairs going on in the world and the feeling of being let down by those meant to help. Each episode tells its own story overlapping into each episode and between the moments of joy are a hard slap in the face to say the least.
Dave is the groundskeeper at the local school but the school is falling down around him through a complete lack of funding. He befriends a young man who he finds stealing food only to realise the reason he is doing it is enough to break you. Jean is trying her best to run the school without the much-needed funding and while the school is failing, so is their marriage.
Gaz still has his head in the sky trying to dream up his next scheme often to the detriment of the relationship with his now-grown son Nathan. His teenage daughter from another relationship isn’t fairing any better as she struggles with her own angst and questionable future.
It is Horse’s fate that hit me hardest. Confined to a wheelchair now and always his plucky self on the outside he is struggling with his health down to one lung and can barely afford to feed himself each day. Though not in your face it plays out subtly throughout the series and really adds to the gloom.
The Full Monty has the heart of the original movie but misses out on its uplifting never say die feel. It’s a cold and dark look into the plight of these friends and their community at large while glaringly pointing out that father time is rarely forgiving. Fantastic performances from all each character have been stepped into like 1997 was only yesterday with supporting performances from some good upcoming actors.
While many will enjoy the nostalgia of checking in with some old friends The Full Monty is more about dealing with the struggles of day to life all the while this nagging voice may be telling you that on one fateful night 26 years ago it is the last time you truly felt free.
The Full Monty is releasing 15th June on Disney Plus.
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