The Full Monty review: Character-driven Disney+ revival is hot stuff

The cast of Simon Beaufoy's 1997 hit are back for a heartfelt reunion

Gary (Robert Carlyle) inThe Full Monty (Disney+)
Gary (Robert Carlyle) inThe Full Monty (Disney+)
  • 📺 Where to watch The Full Monty: Disney+ from 14 June

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 4/5

  • 🍿 Watch it if you liked: The Full Monty, 51st State, Trainspotting

  • 🎭 Who's in it?: Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy, Paul Barber, Lesley Sharp 

  • How long is it? 8 x 50 minute episodes

  • 📖 What’s it about? The original band of brothers reunite to navigate Sheffield and its crumbling healthcare, education and employment sectors, exploring the brighter, sillier and more humane way forward where communal effort can still triumph over adversity.

Returning to screens after 26 years, Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) revisits some old friends from South Yorkshire, who once found fame giving it The Full Monty.

Much of what made that original film work came down to its character actors. Headlined by Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, Tom Wilkinson, and Paul Barber, The Full Monty circa 1997 felt authentic.

Read more: Everything new on Disney+ in June

These characters lived in a low-income area, bonded through their optimistic approach to adversity, and found pleasure in the little things, such as their friendships.

Dave (Mark Addy) in The Full Monty (Disney+)
Dave (Mark Addy) in The Full Monty (Disney+)

Thankfully, over two decades on that spirit remains strong in this small screen sequel, which returns to find Gary (Robert Carlyle), Dave (Mark Addy), Gerald (Tome Wilkinson), and Horse (Paul Barber) still struggling, and Beaufoy's script quickly re-establishes this group of disparate men without resorting to sentimentality.

It would have been easy to turn each one into a success story for this return, but that would have lessened the authenticity which so defined them, and by extension diminished dramatic impact.

So it is that this small screen Fully Monty finds Gary estranged from a daughter (Talitha Wing) he barely knows, Dave struggling to overcome the loss of a child with his wife Jean (Lesley Sharp), while other members of their circle deal with money issues.

Horse (Paul Barber) in The Full Monty (Disney+)
Horse (Paul Barber) in The Full Monty (Disney+)

However, beyond the delicately drawn characters which will draw audiences back in, The Full Monty also acts a social commentary piece, addressing in unflinching terms the impact of economic upheaval up North.

In the opening five minutes, Beaufoy lists countless bureaucratic failures which all fell flat, as local councils and countless Prime Ministers acted out of self-interest while the working classes continued to suffer.

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Granted, this tub thumping might only last a matter of minutes, but the ramifications of those choices made over two decades goes a long way in giving this limited series some serious backbone. It provides a cultural context to the down-at-heel optimism of these people who strive to find happiness through friendships, family, and common ground.

The Full Monty (Disney+)
The Full Monty (Disney+)

For the unfamiliar there is also much to enjoyed here. Unexpected moments of comedy and pathos come from within this community as they address the shifting landscape of political correctness to highlight a different generation who are struggling to adapt to changing attitudes.

Either way, this character-driven drama has as much to do with stripping now as it did then, yet still manages to leave an indelible impression without revealing one inch of skin.

The Full Monty streams on Disney+ from 14 June.

Watch a trailer for The Full Monty