Magic Mike is the tale of Michael Lane (Channing Tatum), a dancer who lures neophyte Adam “The Kid” (Alex Pettyfer) into his world of stripping, easy money and hard partying. Tables are turned along the way as Adam fully embraces the lifestyle and Mike longs to retire.
The big praise goes to Channing Tatum, who carries the film with his affable, charming appeal. Channing has become the go-to leading man, a status that was sealed after his hilarious turn in the surprisingly funny 21 Jump Street. Guys wanna hang with him and women want to fantasize about claiming him as the “perfect boyfriend.” (The phenomena is best paraphrased by Heather Chandler in Heathers, “They all want me as a friend or a fuck.”)
While that might come across as arrogant, Tatum turns it to his advantage by letting you know he’s in on the joke. He possesses a humility that keeps his mega-stardom relatable. And that ability is worth millions. The theater was packed with women who looked like they were on their way to Vegas for a bachelorette party and somehow ended up at the movies. There was a celebratory feeling in the air as everyone eagerly anticipated the start of the film. My sister-in-law, Courtney, summed it up best, saying, “Damn! Never underestimate the spending power of women.” (Courtney also posed the valid question, “Why wasn’t this filmed in 3-D? Now there’s a blockbuster!”) Clearly there’s a market for the lady-pleasing genre; just ask Fifty Shades of Gray author E.L. James, who’s currently netting a stunning million dollars a week for her sexy fan fiction efforts.
Nicole says… apparently I’m not alone in this revelation! [Photo Credit]
Channing also earns another nod, given that he helped produce the movie, which is famously based on his real-life experiences. Yep, the Chan Man was a 19-year old stripper in Tampa, Florida before hitting the big time. Don’t we all wish we had a time machine, right about now? I’ve got some dollar bills that belong in his bank…
Tatum found another stroke of luck (I can not write this review without everything sounding dirty, but I’ll press on) in nabbing Steven Soderbergh, who thankfully was at the helm for both directing and cinematography duties. His firm hand helped keep the plot focused without veering too far into schmaltz, given the inevitable love story that develops along side the strip club antics. While it’s not the strongest offering in Soderbergh’s oeuvre, it is a helluva a lot of fun.
And it’s the fun that keeps this flick rolling, most notably with Matthew McConaughey, who is clearly having the time of his life as oily club owner Dallas. The only thing missing from his performance would have been including a meta-moment of nude bongo playing. However he does strum a guitar and even sings a tune he penned specifically for the film. I guess we’ll have to settle for that!
Matthew McConaughey is front, center and ready for his bongo solo!
Yet, in spite of all the hoopla, I found myself wishing for a meatier storyline. There’s not much to the plot, which may not come as a big surprise; but I was hoping Soderbergh might treat us to a little more. Yes, there are several incredible dance scenes, ass-in-thong shots, waxed man parts (no full frontals, minus a side view of a penis pump) and a crazy fight at a sorority house with both Channing and Alex in chaps. That’s all well and good, but it still felt somehow lacking. Even the much-hyped fellow strippers (Matt Bomer as Ken, Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Richie, Adam Rodriguez as Tito and Kevin Nash as Tarzan) suffer from a lack of character development and mainly fade into the background.
However the most annoying part is Cody Horn as Brooke, The Kid’s sister and the miscast love interest. I understand the part is needed in order for Mike to grow, as well as develop a reason to leave the biz – but I just couldn’t buy the fact that he’d do it for her, given their complete lack of chemistry. She comes across as shrill, uptight and totally boring. He’s giving up the big bucks for what? Alas, Tatum carries on and does his best to make us believe Brooke is worth it.
Really the most shocking thing is the casting of Alex Pettyfer. Alex was a hot up and comer who quickly earned himself a very bad reputation in Hollywood, most notably for allegedly terrorizing Glee’s Dianna Agron post-breakup. Needless to say, I was surprised he nabbed the lead in this coveted film. [Incidentally, Pettyfer is currently engaged to Riley Keogh (Elvis and Pricilla Presley’s eldest granddaughter), who’s got a cameo in Magic Mike.] Perhaps he can learn a thing or two from Channing. Tinsel Town can be all about redemption… if you have the right attitude.
Not even a backwards baseball cap will turn that frown upside down.
Grab a few pals, down some cocktails and smooth out those ones. You won’t walk away enriched, but you will be entertained.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: ass, chaps or thong – no one rides for free!
Take a Drink: every time a lady gets plucked out of the crowd by a stripper and put onstage.
Take a Drink: for every ensemble striptease.
Take a Drink: every time you think, “Wait, isn’t Matthew McConaughey just playing himself?”
Do a Shot: every time Brooke throws a wet blanket on the proceedings.
No extra scenes, though McConaughey will sing you out of the theater with his song “Ladies of Tampa.” Seriously.