Steven Soderbergh is responsible for my least favorite movie of all time (Bubble) and my least favorite movie I’ve never finished (The Girlfriend Experience, it was terrible). However, I’ve enjoyed the Oceans films a lot. I passed on Contagion rather than pay for it and have yet to see The Informant!, although everyone assures me it’s terrific.
I was excited for Magic Mike from the moment that I heard Channing Tatum, a former male stripper himself, was making a movie about male stripping. There are not any films out there about the subject, at least as far as I know, and it sounded like an interesting idea. Tatum proved his comedic chops in 21 Jump Street and the first trailer got me really excited. Add Matt Bomer, Matthew McConaughey, and Joe Manganiello and I was counting the days. Then, throw out the rumor that you get to see Olivia Munn’s boobs and I was contemplating freezing myself until the midnight showing.
I was, however, a little hesitant with Soderbergh directing but it was not enough to stop the excitement. Did the guy who made people think Sasha Grey was a real person deliver on what should’ve been impossible to mess up, or do Bubble and The Girlfriend Experience have company? Let’s dive in and find out.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Release Date: June 29th, 2012
Spoiler alert: Yeah, you get to see Olivia Munn’s boobs, and they are pretty nice. /spoilers
Magic Mike is the story of Mike (Tatum), a Tampa resident and entrepreneur who also happens to be super awesome at being a male stripper. He meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer) on a roofing job, and later that night, through several twists of fate, introduces Adam to the world of male stripping. Adam’s sister, Brooke (Cody Horn, who you may recognize as Will Ferrel’s assistant from The Office) is none too thrilled by this and finds herself as a foil to Mike’s relatively care-free attitude only to discover, along with Mike and the audience, that Mike wants more from life.
First off, Channing Tatum is a goddamn revelation. I knew he could dance from Step Up and I knew he had comedy chops from 21 Jump Street, but he combines the two for one of the best performances he’s committed to film to date. Alex Pettyfer, who’s got the moves in his own right, is excellent as “The Kid.” His meteoric rise is reminiscent of Wahlberg in Boogie Nights, so much so that I almost expected the last shot of the film to be him pulling out his penis while looking in a mirror. Cody Horn had essentially two modes: sarcastic stick-in-the-mud and “Laugh at everything Magic Mike says,” but she served her purpose well as the protective older sister and breakfast-lover. McConaughey, the ringmaster of the all-male revues, is basically playing Matthew McConaughey in leather chaps, which isn’t a bad thing. The other strippers (Bomer, Manganiello, wrestler Kevin Nash, and long-time CSI veteran Adam Rodriguez) all have a moment or two to shine off on the dance floor, but are essentially window dressing as this story is really about Mike and The Kid. Olivia Munn and her breasts are also in this film and while it’s probably her least obnoxious role yet, I still hated the character, but I think you’re supposed to.
When you give someone like Tatum good material to work with (see 21 Jump Street), they’ll knock it out of the ballpark. Magic Mike is full of awesome, smart writing from new screenwriter (and co-producer) Reid Carolin and it gives Channing Tatum what he needs to bring the house down. The shooting and editing were both sensational as well, and there were some really awesome scenes as a result.
The writing is smart and the editing is top notch, and there’s a few scenes that have a lot of really cool angles in them too, but the stand-out element of this film is unsurprisingly the dance numbers. From an umbrella-filled group tribute to “Raining Men” to Matt Bomer’s doll-like routine to the Independence Day numbers and Bomer and Pettyfer’s cowboy shootout, every single one was top-notch. Tatum stood out with his nigh-unnatural dance moves, but every one of the strippers, save for Kevin Nash who was absolutely, hilariously outclassed, were terrific.
Ladies will love this film. That was evidenced by the fact that my buddy Pat, my co-worker Matt, and I were three of the only males I could find in a sold-out theater. And y’know, if they can get past the core “male stripper” concepts of the film, I think guys will enjoy it too.
“But Sean,” you cry, “isn’t this film full of butts and wieners? As a straight male, I don’t like those things!” Worry not, dear friend, there are breasts, including Olivia Munn’s and Elvis’s granddaughter’s, and a whole awesome movie full of witty dialogue and sweet, non-butt-exposing dancing to off-set all the butts. There’s also no wieners, save for one fairly large exception courtesy of what is presumably a prosthetic.
In the end, Steven Soderbergh did not disappoint. I loved Magic Mike and everything about it. Channing Tatum is hot fire this year and I don’t see him letting up any time soon. Alex Pettyfer redeemed himself in my eyes for the lackluster I Am Number Four and McConaughey proved once again that he is really awesome at playing Matthew McConaughey. Alright, alright, alright, alright!
Matthew Razak: If you’re going for the abs you will not be disappointed. If you’re going for strong direction you won’t be disappointed either. If you’re going for story you’re going to be a bit upset. Magic Mike is a film that holds itself together on looks, looks and more looks. It does this very, very well and in the end winds up being entirely enjoyable because of it. There isn’t much past the looks, however, to make it a really great movie. Especially unfortunate is Cody Horn who can’t stand up to Tatum’s charm and has even less luck delivering lines or emotion. But why bring up emotion when there’s just so many naked men around? 67 – Decent
Jenika Katz: DAT ASS. 68 – Decent