D/DP: Steven Soderbergh. W: Reid Carolin. Starring: Channing Tatum/Matthew McConaughey/Alex Pettyfer/Cody Horn/Joe Manganiello/Olivia Munn/Matt Bomer/Adam Rodriquez/Kevin Nash.
The newest tagline for this weekend’s new movie is…tell your boyfriend you’re going to book club, and meet me at the movies for Magic Mike. Really? Are American women so repressed that they must lie in order to get out of the house to see a little movie about some men who take their clothes off for a living? Why the double standard? If they were going to an actual male strip club would anyone care as much? Or is it the fact that its on a big screen, with name actors, and in the daylight for all to see?
Without getting all my feminist feathers in a ruffle about marketing, Magic Mike will be a success not only because of women, but because of gay men. Let’s face it, there are just as many men out there drooling over the prospect of Channing Tatum’s waxed bum as the next lady. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At my screening alone I would say half the cinema was men, and there wasn’t any shameful book club con aimed at them. But let’s put our money where our mouth is and be honest about the quality of this film.
Magic Mike tells the lenient biographical story of Tatum’s time in Florida as a stripper and up and coming “entrepreneur.” The story predominately focuses on Tatum (Magic Mike) and his new friendship with Alex Pettyfer (Adam/The Kid). Tatum takes on mentoring Pettyfer as he indoctrinates him into the stripping world and all the many perks it has to offer. So at its heart, the film is a story of friendship and drive. But it looses this focus many times. Tatum continuously and tirelessly tries to woo Pettyfer’s sister, played by newcomer Cody Horn. Horn is unfortunately miscast here. Although it is great to have a girl next door looking lady, she ends up coming off as boring, stiff, and will make the audience wonder what Tatum is so entranced with.
Tatum and Pettyfer are better, though never really given a meaty (pardon the pun) scene to work with. Regardless, the true star is (of course) Matthew McConaughey as aging, club owner Dallas. McConaughey is the only man who seems to give any color or layer to his character. Very disappointingly, White Collar star Matt Bomer and True Blood beef cake Joe Manganiello, have about ten lines split between them. But I guess they weren’t hired to act? Rather it seems they were hired to illicit the hoots, claps and hollers I heard in the cinema during the whole film. Honestly, it was just as entertaining to see what people shamelessly clapped at than watch the film.
Even worse than its muddled story, Magic Mike maintains no sense of balance between stripper performances and the actual story. Director Steven Soderbergh’s touch is only evident with certain transitions and shots. Other than that I felt like he didn’t really know how to tell a story with this material. How do we tell a story while also getting everyone to strip as that is probably why they’ll see the movie anyway? Maybe a better script? Just a thought. So what is ultimately frustrating about Magic Mike is it probably could actually have been better. If the characters were more important than the clothes they took off, then maybe the movie would be an even bigger success. That being said it is greatly entertaining. Don’t feel ashamed. Go with your girlfriends or boyfriends, have a few drinks and help remind this business that people still go to the movies. Even if it is to see some good gyrating.