Matchup of the Day: Full Metal Jacket vs. The Full Monty
Today we have United States Marines vs. a group of wannabe English male strippers training to be a well-oiled machine, or Full Metal Jacket vs. The Full Monty.
According to Wikipedia, a full metal jacket “is a small-arms projectile consisting of a soft core (often lead) encased in a shell of harder metal”. Stanley Kubrick chose the title because it was the type of bullet used by Marines in Vietnam. “The full monty” is British slang for “everything which is necessary, appropriate, or possible; ‘the works’”. The origin of the phrase is not known, though it possibly could be in reference to English Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, who was nicknamed “Monty”. In the context of the film, it refers to stripping off all of one’s clothing including the underwear.
Both movies feature a relationship between a guy who doesn’t take things seriously and his overweight buddy. Well, in Full Metal Jacket Private Joker and Private Pyle aren’t exactly buddies, but Joker does try to look out for Pyle. Their drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, at boot camp tasks Joker with getting Pyle up to snuff, since he’s lagging behind in his training. In The Full Monty, Gaz is a ne’er-do-well divorced father who may lose mutual custody of his son due to his unproductive behavior. His chubby pal, Dave, fears that his wife prefers the finely chiseled Chippendale dancers who performed in town to his softer frame. Gaz talks Dave into forming a male stripper troupe in order to pay bills since they are out of work. They recruit some other unlikely would-be candidates and begin practicing.
The first part of Full Metal Jacket, which is generally better known than the latter half, takes place during basic training. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is a hardass who is particularly rough on Private Pyle. The rest of the recruits eventually take to disciplining Pyle (harshly) on their own when Hartman starts punishing them for Pyle’s mistakes. The closest Full Monty has to a drill instructor is Gerald, also unemployed, who used to be the foreman at the steel plant Gaz and Dave worked at. He takes dance lessons, and so Dave asks him to teach them what he knows. Gerald is hardly the disciplinarian that Hartman is. Also, no member of the group is singled out for his deficiencies since each one of them is lacking in some way. They struggle with feelings of inadequacy throughout the film.
Private Pyle shapes up, at least physically, and graduates infantry training. Before they are sent off to Vietnam, Joker finds Pyle in the bathroom with a loaded rifle. Hartman comes in and starts hurling insults at Pyle. Pyle shoots him and then turns the gun on himself. Dave has second thoughts about going through with the striptease due to his girth. His wife finds out that he was practicing to be a stripper and encourages him to perform. Since all he wanted was her reassurance, he decides to stay in the show. It turns out to be a big success.