MAGIC MIKE DELIVERS THE GOODS
By Ginger Pennington
Ladies, stop reading right now and just go. You’ll pay a lot less to see Magic Mike than you will at a strip club, and the performances here are much higher quality and full of close-ups. The interesting thing is that you may still leave feeling just as seedy!
Steven Soderbergh knows how to get the screen steamed up (anyone else remember that hotel scene between JLo and Clooney in Out of Sight?) and here, he directs a bevel of beautiful mostly-naked men to give their all. The visual payoff is such that I am at a loss for intelligent critical examination, though I will attempt it.
As far as entertainment value, Magic Mike hits the nail on the head. With all the dry humping, gyrating, and choreographed dance routines, I barely noticed that a plot was being sneaked in under the radar, and that it didn’t really show its face until three-fourths of the movie was over. But who cares? Not I.
As the story goes, Mike (Channing Tatum, who also helped produce the film) is an artist, a hard-working, furniture-making entrepreneur who has been saving his stripper earnings for the past six years to start his own business. Adam, a.k.a. The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) is a lost 19-year-old whose world changes when Mike introduces him to the wonderland of male stripping, with its easy money, hot chicks, underground celebrity status, and party lifestyle. Mike himself seemingly has a good head on his shoulders, so when he promises Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn) that he will take care of her little brother, it’s easy to believe him.
I’m not familiar with the Channing Tatum canon; perhaps I had unfairly stereotyped Step Up 2 and The Vow, because now I understand that his appeal goes deeper than his dimples and Marky Mark abs. This guy is charming, with a teasing confidence, a genuine sense of humor, and a southern good-old-boy aura that make him universally appealing.
Fellow shirtless southerner Matthew McConaughey plays Dallas, the hot yet creepy aging stripper who owns the Tampa, Florida club, Xquisite. This is the perfect role for McConaughey, who provides a lot of comic relief walking around in costumes inspired either by Richard Simmons or by Crocodile Dundee, and constantly carrying bongos.
Through Adam’s eyes, this new vocation is a nonstop good time; it seems he has made a good temporary career choice. However, slowly, the sleazy underbelly of this dark world begins to emerge, and this is where Soderbergh succeeds at making a movie that is more than just a visual smorgasbord. The screenplay, written by Reid Carolin, is predictable but contains some good dialogue and honest moments. Though quiet, documentary-style shots, Magic Mike takes us behind the scenes in the private lives of real people who have genuine concerns outside of their ostentatious stage personas.
At a run time of nearly two hours, Magic Mike could have found a better way to utilize Joe Manganiello (from True Blood) and Matt Bomer (from White Collar), two members of the dance troupe who were used strictly as human props. The good thing is, with consistent amusements, drama, and characters worthy of latching onto, this didn’t seem like a long film.
While most men outside of West Hollywood probably won’t take a date to see this movie, Magic Mike does, surprisingly, have a lot to offer all viewers in terms of comedy and novelty. Overall, this is an entertaining mosaic-style glimpse into a world most people have never thought much of, and that alone makes it worth a watch.
Check out our steamy photos from the red carpet premiere.