I assume you've seen The Full Monty. If you haven't, you can read about it here.
The first time I saw The Full Monty was my senior year in high school, otherwise known as 1999/2000. I remember thinking it was really funny. Robert Carlyle is incredibly talented and the concept of the movie seemed almost like a more sophisticated episode of I Love Lucy, a simple plot designed to cause plenty of misunderstandings and embarrassment on the stage. As a fan of I Love Lucy I thought it was super cute but I didn't really give it much thought.
Fast forward to 2014. I've gone to college, gotten married, had a baby, moved to the suburbs. And during the first 19 months of our marriage my husband was looking for work. He had been laid off three weeks before our wedding during what would turn out to be one of the most difficult economic periods since the Great Depression. After 19 months he finally found employment again right after the birth of our daughter. Time passed, I did the stay-at-home-mom thing for a year and a half, we moved to another state, and found ourselves bored one evening with access to Amazon Prime streaming.
We stumbled upon The Full Monty and, remembering it as a pretty funny flick, we paid the $2 rental fee and popped some popcorn. And then I went through an emotional roller coaster so unexpected it could have popped out of a can of peanut brittle. What had originally seemed to be a lighthearted romp set in an era of economic instability became a deep, introspective look at the emasculating effect of unemployment on men of all ages. Watching these men who want nothing more than to take care of their families struggle, fail, ultimately come up with what seems to be an insane idea that they force into being out of desperation despite how incredibly degrading it has the potential to be brought tears to my eyes. My husband never considered stripping (at least not that he told me about) but he ran errands, worked temp jobs, performed manual labor, and almost gave up on it all and took a job as a barista until I begged him not to, not because he is too good for that but because it would have been full time and interfered with his ability to interview for jobs that were a closer equivalent to what he had before he was laid off. Seeing how these men felt such deep shame at their inability to provide for their families, take care of their wives, and contribute to society was almost like the writers of this movie had seen 18 years into the future and 3,500 miles across the Atlantic when they put this script together.
People need to feel productive. People need to feel like providers. People need to feel like they have value. When something like a spike in unemployment takes that away from huge swathes of society we are all left worse for it. The need to contribute in life is so great it is a theme that can cross cultural borders, thousands of miles, decades of time, and all races and genders. But you know what else people need? They need to laugh. That is why they made this movie a comedy when it could have so easily been a dark, introspective drama.