Magic Mike Reviews
Nate's Grade: B-
That this is directed by Steven Soderbergh is probably the best aspect of it. I mean honestly, who else could take a fluffy story about male strippers and turn it into something with a fair amount of meat on its bones? Sure, the broad strokes of this movie, namely Mike taking a young upstart under his wing, and Mike having dreams and ambitions beyond stripping are nothing new, but Soderbergh provides a highly entertaining, likable, and energetic variation on these themes.
And yes, while the film does have a number of scenes that will make the ladies (and gay men) go wild, this isn't a sleazy romp like Showgirls. It's got actual plot and characters, and is about something. Plus, it is a very nice 'workplace' film as well.
The film is quite well cast. Tatum plays the mentor role to Alex Pettyfer's protege, which is basically a fictionalized version of Tatum himself (to a degree). CT is charismatic, charming, and quite convincing. Pettyfer is good as Alex, and brings a good amount of naivete as the upstart who struggles to handle success. Then we've got Matthew McConaughey delivering a terrific performance in a role he was seemingly born for: that of Dallas, the narcissistic, smarmy owner of Club Xquisite- and Mike's boss. He's great here, and this is another notch in his belt of great performances that prove he really is a talent. Cody Horn is also good as Brooke- Alex's sister and potential love interest for Mike, one who isn't thrilled about her brother's new career choice, and urges Mike to keep an eye on him. Olivia Munn is also okay as Mike's on-again off-again lover Joanna. We also get appearances from Joe Manganiello and Kevin Nash as fellow strippers Big Dick Richie and Tarzan, respectively. They have a couple of good moments, but I think they could have been given a little more.
The film has Soderbergh's trademark style, energy, and vision all over it, with some strong cinematography, great choreographed sequences, and some sharp editing. Bottom line: it's a fun and breezy affair, but not without a touch of heart and depth.
Give this a look, it's quite good.
Good movie! First let's get the nude issue out of the way. There is only one full frontal in the movie it's off to the side, is partially blocked and is probably faked. It's also very funny. There's mostly butt shots only but all are from Tatum, Pettyfer and Adam Rodriguez. This movie is not about the nudity. The movie moves slow (although I was never bored) and main events happen off screen or are never explained! Still the movie works. For one thing all the acting is good. I was surprised at how good Tatum was. I never thought he could act till this. He captures his character perfectly. Pettyfer was equally good as Adam. Even Matthew McConaughey was good as the group's owner named Dallas. The strip acts themselves are incredible. All the guys are in good shape and Tatum shows some moves that are jaw-dropping! However they're not shot in an exploited fashion. They're done in a matter of fact way that actually makes them seem quite funny. This movie shows us nothing new but it was well-made and entertaining. This is not just for women and gay men, I think everyone would enjoy it.
Mike, an experienced stripper, takes a younger performer called The Kid under his wing and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money.
Anyways. I wasn't too impressed. I thought for a stripper flick you might want to get some people who can actually dance and not just look good with their shirt/pants off. I mean that wrestler dude, Kevin Nash, had no business being on that stage. I cringed everytime I saw him. The only ones who could actually dance were the ones I mentioned earlier.
Now about the story. It was interesting enough. To see how a kid who had a bright future with college ball strayed and went a whole new direction with his life. Then to see the opposite of it for another wanting more then some dollar bills in his G-string at the end of the night. I enjoyed the movie. Not something I would probably see again though. Well....maybe.. lol."
This is turning out to be quite a year for McConaughey, who has given one strong supporting performance after another. (Don't miss his work in "Bernie" and "Killer Joe.")
But the movie is centered on Mike, played by the astoundingly mediocre Channing Tatum. Tatum is great to look at. He does have a body that is almost other-worldly in its beauty. He looks like an ancient Greek statue come to life. He does make for an energetic and creative stripper, too. There are many stripping sequences in "Magic Mike," and his are the best by far. But when it comes to acting, Tatum is out of his depth. I get the feeling that he just hasn't developed much of an inner life. The key to acting, at least in my book, is having a deep inner life of one's own, which allows you to construct an inner life for your characters. When Tatum acts, all he has is his body.
That appears to be fine for director Steven Soderbergh, who wanted to make a television-level movie. Soderbergh in the last 15 years or so has become something of a zombie filmmaker. He roams around in a bit of a stupor, eating movie genres. One at a time, he's going to consume every one of them. This time, his objective was to make a TV-level movie for semi-educated housewives, and he pulls it off admirably well. He has learned how to do this genre, meeting his objective.
Soderbergh stoops to conquer again. He's become expert at doing movies below him, turning into more of an expert movie technician than an artist. He doesn't seem to have much to say anymore.
English actor Alex Pettyfer plays a novice stripper whom Tatum takes under his wing. It's too soon to tell, but there's a chance Pettyfer could turn into a fairly serious actor. He appears still to be just enjoying himself and reveling in the attention being directed at him. (Everybody wants to sleep with me now. I'm a god!) But I sense something deeper in him that I hope he cultivates. I hope he doesn't turn into another Channing Tatum. If I were going to give him advice, I'd say get some serious dramatic acting lessons -- some Literature classes are also not a bad idea. That's how you develop your inner life. Ask Sean Penn for advice, not Channing Tatum. Or Steven Soderbergh.
Based on Channing Tatum's own background as a male entertainer, you can tell that he's very much on his home soil here. But the nice thing about this film, is that isn't all about the six-packs and well-coreographed dance numbers, but has bona fide characters and authentic-ringing dialogue. They speak, act and think the way normal, real-life people do.
Despite keeping superficiality at bay, however, it is regrettably a rather long-winded picture. It takes too long to get things said and induced a couple of yawns at certain points throughout the narrative. This could easily have been resolved by tightening up the story a bit and with a stronger focus on the essentials. Because the potential is definitely there, just not always the execution.
Acting-wise, I have no complains to file though. Tatum, who first gave me the impression of a big dumb oaf who've made a career solely on his looks, has impressed me quite tremendously since I saw him in 21 Jump Street. He's not just a huge mountain of muscles, for the girls to scream themselves hoarse at. He can genuinely act.
Given the material, it reminded me in some ways of a modern American equivalent of the British success hit The Fully Monty, from 1997. But I suppose with the major difference that Channing Tatum and his stripper colleagues have a little more to show off than tummies built on Guinness.
Because of the weakness in the pacing though, and some all-too-familiar, platitudinous subplots, it fails to go that extra mile into dramedy greatness. Now, I was fortunate enough to see this for free at an advanced screening, but for those planning to see it at the theatres, I'd recommend you to wait for the rental release instead. A worthwhile guilty pleasure, but not quite as magical as the title would suggest.
Channing Tatum is in his element on that stage. His fusion of B-boy, hip hop, pop and lock is excitingly choreographed and executed. He also continues to charm me with his meathead banter. Cody Horn as Brooke, the sensible older sister of Mike's protege, Adam, is hard as nails with her Marlon-Brando-stuffing-cotton-in-his-jaw underbite. The flirtation between Mike and Brooke is silly yet guarded. She doesn't play hard-to-get. She IS hard to get.
Olivia Munn, whom I don't usually like, even sinks her teeth into a meaty role as the friend with benefits/lesbian tendencies/feelings complex. That post-booty call scene with her on the couch, wiping away tears as if they were sweat, is all at once, pitiful and pure.
My one qualm with the movie is that it doesn't get into the misogyny and misandry of strip clubs - not that strip clubs are inherently objectifying; I can appreciate the art and those who do it artfully. However, this film is of the mindset that male strip clubs are for women's objectification of men whereas I think male strip clubs/revues objectify women just as much as female strip clubs do. The only reaction shown was rabid women, eager to stuff the dudes' banana hammocks with Benjamins whereas in my experience, the most pervasive reaction of an unsuspecting bride-to-be is horror at being bodily thrown over a beefcake's shoulders while he bumps and grinds or mimes cunnilingus. Skeevy Matthew McConaughey reminds the audience that they can't touch, but the strippers are allowed to touch as much as they want, uninvited or not. It promotes male dominance, not just a removed sense of voyeurism.