It took the blokes of The Full Monty the entire movie to doff their duds, but Mrs. Henderson Presents gets right down to the business of naughty bits. In London on the eve of World War II, Laura Henderson (Judi Dench), a widow of wealth and connection, purchases an abandoned theater in the West End. She hires a resident showman, the crusty Dutch Jewish impresario Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins), and together they devise a scheme to pack in the patrons: They’ll stage impish theatricals with a sprinkling of topless chorus girls. Surprisingly, there is little local opposition; even the fusty Lord Chamberlain (Christopher Guest) agrees to allow the nudity, provided the girls in question remain motionless on stage. This makes for a friendly romp, and also a dull one: There is dialogue that begs the audience to go tee-hee (”We must have British nipples!” declares Van Damm), but there is no drama, unless you count the wallflower romance of Hoskins and Dench, doing the Britcom shtick that’s becomes her version of autopilot.
2006 Oscar Nominations: Best Actress (Judi Dench); Best Costumes