There is a certain expectation going into Magic Mike, and that expectation is a lot of sexy men with chiseled abs. And those who saw the red-band trailer can expect plenty more. But for those only expecting that may be in for a surprise. As with any stripper movie eventually the plot turns from fun and campy dancing to a look into the fast life of the exotic dancer. That doesn’t take anything away from the movie; it just becomes something different than was advertised. Magic Mike is a fun, fast, and sexy movie for the first half and then becomes more of the same with a slip into darkness and melodrama by the halfway point.
Steven Soderbergh seems to have a lot of fun with the film and unlike many of the men in the audience doesn’t seem all that uncomfortable with half naked men. Soderbergh loves flipping the norm and focusing on the women ogling the men instead of what we usually see on the screen. Some of the best scenes take place back in the club whether it is back stage or out there shaking it all for the women. The group numbers are fun and will have the women cheering knowing they got exactly what they came for. The choreography for the group dance numbers especially “Its Raining Men” are terrific. And all the quick cuts of the guys doing their own thing are for the most part hilarious. We even get to see Channing Tatum return to the moves that made him popular in Step Up. And I think we get an actual look into how women act behind closed doors when allowed to, hell I think this may be the watered down version of that interaction.
The second half of the movie takes a look at the different life styles that come with stripping, including getting into the drug selling business. This part focuses more on Alex Pettyfer as “The Kid” who was brought into this world by Tatum’s character Mike. While “The Kid” is based off of Tatum when he was 18 and getting into the stripping world (here’s photographic proof of that) the drug portion is reportedly fictional. No stripping movie can get away from this part of the story as the turn seems reminiscent of Boogie Nights or Showgirls, but the story reminded me most of Saturday Night Fever. Indeed the movie begins with some the good times inherent with dancing and the freeing experience and then it takes the same dark turn inherent with too much freedom.
Tatum is still a stiff actor and I don’t know if he will ever break himself of that trait. I’m sure none of the women will mind as one friend who saw the movie only had one comment after seeing the movie: “He is gorgeous.” Tatum though seems to be at his best when he is allowed to riff a little bit and improvise what needs to be done. Much like 21 Jump Street the character is written to his strengths, which makes sense as the screenwriter is also his producing partner. Matthew McConaughey does a great McConaughey as he even slips in a couple of “alright, alright, alrights.” But he is not just a blazed actor looking to collect a paycheck; he embraces the role and portrays it not as a fool, but a savvy business man who knows what his customers want. While all the other dancers don’t add too much dialogue to the story, they do share some subtleties to the lifestyle that help develop both Magic Mike and The Kid. The dancers do much better than Cody Horn and Olivia Munn who were really only there to objectify the men, which typing now I realize is probably the point.
Magic Mike starts with women cheering and begging to see what they all came for, and while it delivers that early, it becomes a much darker if not predictable movie. The movie is vividly shared by Soderbergh and the male cast, but it just loses any momentum it was moving towards by injecting the drug angle. But the reason you are going to see it is for the looks and not the substance. I see you scrolling down, hey ladies my thoughts are up here. B-
Salt was supposed to come see this movie with me but bailed last minute, for that story click here