The tale of the struggle for financial survival in a working-class Madrid neighborhood, Alex Calvo-Sotelo’s energetic debut feature, “Full Montys Wanted,” has less comedy than the British original, a wandering plotline that often comes to a full stop, and some genuine wit and characterization that are not, alas, enough to compensate for problems of pacing and tone. A fair-size marketing budget at home has meant decent business since opening in mid-July, but it’s hard to see pic dancing far beyond standard Spanish territories.
Street-smart operator Amancio (Antonio Molero), innocent decorator Refor (Guillermo Toledo), Amancio’s sister Angelines (debutante Sonia Javaga) and her black b.f., Felipe (Ernesto Arango), are unemployed thirtysomethings who have tried to start a business, which failed. Early scenes are packed with “ain’t life unfair” speeches from Amancio. They are forced to invent resumes for themselves; undaunted, they even answer an ad for “Fulmontis,” which turns out to be for gigolos.
This section is full of images that would have worked if the movie wasn’t trying to play upon “The Full Monty” — the boys under hairdryers, the boys trying to look sexy in front of mirrors, and so on. The gang suffers from practically every form of social problem there is — at one point, Felipe’s shantytown apartment is burned down by right-wing skinheads.
Several other subplots run alongside in sometimes uneasy juxtaposition. The lonesome Refor, after claiming he is married, is forced to invite the others to live with him and so have his deception exposed; and Amancio makes repeated visits to his bedridden, mute father in a hospital, thus giving him the opportunity to soliloquize some more about life’s injustices. Inevitably, the group is forced into crime.
Few Spanish films tackle social problems head on, but Antonio Orejudo’s script is tonally uncertain, veering between comedy and bitter social criticism without harmonizing them. And relatively unimportant scenes are given too much screen time.
Amancio, Refor and Angelines are solid, detailed characters, but the terminally passive Felipe is there only as a pretext for pic’s anti-racist propaganda. Heavy-metal soundtrack by Spanish rockers Los Enemigos does little to add subtlety.