1 of 6 | Mark Addy returns in "The Full Monty." Photo courtesy of FX
LOS ANGELES, June 6 (UPI) -- The Full Monty was a feel-good movie about middle-aged men overcoming financial woes with an outrageous striptease show. FX has now made a sequel to the economic turmoil, not the stripping.
The series, premiering on Hulu on June 14, may present a frank observation on the present reality, but that's the depressing part. If there's anything as uplifting as a dance show, it's not in the first four episodes of the eight-part series.
Twenty-five years later, Gaz (Robert Carlyle) still is recovering mattresses from dumpsters and coming up with other schemes. Dave (Mark Addy) is a school custodian where his wife, Jean (Lesley Sharp), is the principal.
Lomper (Steve Hulson) now is working at husband Dennis' (Paul Clayton) diner, where a retired Gerald (Tom Wilkinson) always sits at a booth. Horse (Paul Barber) now is in a wheelchair due to diabetes and is struggling to receive his disability benefits.
Some things have changed. Gaz has a daughter in high school and a grandson by another child. Gaz's grandson also is in a wheelchair that needs a battery they can't afford.
Creators Simon Beuafoy, who wrote the film, and Alice Nutter make their intentions clear. After a recap of the film, a montage fills in the seven prime ministers who failed their promises to workers since 1997.
The issues facing the boys are valid. It just turns the show into a soapbox without the outrageous hook of middle-aged strippers.
Horse's disability hearing is in a faraway town. Transportation is not provided, and if he misses the hearing, he loses his benefits. It's as if the system were designed to deprive people of the benefits to which they are entitled.
Some characters had tragedies between the movie and the show. Gaz discovers an artist who is being treated in a mental hospital. Again, this is a valid depiction of mental health care, or lack thereof, but very heavy.
Jean's school faces budget cuts, forcing her to fire teachers, while Dave mentors a bullied child.
A new character even meets a family seeking political asylum in his neighborhood. This is another valid component of the tapestry of British, and broader European, life today, but adds more to the drama.
The gang engages in some minor schemes each week, but none are laugh-out-loud funny like the film's striptease rehearsals. They only reinforce how depressing it is that the characters have resorted to dognapping or pigeon breeding.
Each episode finds some moments of joy, play or singing, but those are few and far between, spread out even further over eight parts.
The point of the movie was never that stripping solved all their problems. It was only one moment of empowerment and happiness.
The Full Monty series may very well reflect the realities of a world with so many more problems from which a movie moment can't distract. Seeing beloved characters suffer is relatable, but also very depressing.
Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.