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Review of the Full Monty

Posted by phduffy on 2005-12-01 09:54:00
I recently took in a performance of the musical The Full Monty at Kitchener’s Centre in the Square. The story, if you’re not familiar with it, is that a bunch of laid off guys in Buffalo are desperately trying to come up with a way to make some money. They’re led by Jim, a recently divorced father of one, who needs to make some money to pay his alimony, so that he’ll still be able to see his kid. One day when walking home with his best friend Dave, who’s also unemployed, they walk by the strippers. This leads them to the genius idea that they should strip to make money, as women will want to see ‘normal’ men, as opposed to the good looking gay men who normally strip.

So, they set out to get a group of men together. And of course, along the way they sing and train, leading to the grand finale. Oh, also, one of the reasons that they think that they’re going to be successful is that they’re going to show “The Full Monty”, and not just the G-strings that the regular strippers use.

Overall I had fun, and would say that this was a solid show, but not without its flaws. Firstly, it’s too long (3 hours including intermission), and secondly it needed to make up its mind as to whether it was a comedy or a drama. Most of the time it goes for comedy, and it works. However, songs about a man’s love for his son, or about how he’s just not good enough for his wife, really stick out and seem to be out of place. This is a musical that includes a character who was introduced to move the plot along and add some comic relief, and the explanation for her presence is “She just showed up”. That’s fine, but if you do that, don’t worry about the serious.

Now, I firmly believe that virtually every drama/action flick should at least have some levity. Stories (be they musicals or movies) without any comedy at all tend to fall flat (see Constantine) compared to something that made us smile at least once. However, I don’t believe that the converse is true. You have a story that’s a comedy, and focus only on the comedic parts, using the serious parts as nothing more but devices to get the plot moving to the next hilarity. And I think that’s what The Full Monty should have done. I have no problem with the fact that there’s a plot point concerning the main character’s divorce how he’s stripping because he loves his son. I do have a problem when that distracts from the hilarity and gets a song.

With that said, overall I enjoyed The Full Monty, and there are some really funny songs in it. My favourite is about how a true friend will help you kill yourself, even if that means smashing you in the face with a cinder block. Also, the unveiling at the end was funny and well done.

Oh yeah, one last thing. On the night that I went, there were some women who I think thought that they were actually at the strippers. These ladies couldn’t get enough of hooting and hollering and whispering at all the men.