- Director:Steven Soderbergh
- Cast:Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Channing Tatum
- Release Date:July 26, 2012
- Running time:110 minutes
- Film Worth:$17.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Channing Tatum adds real soul to this steamy, sexy world, which director Soderbergh smartly revels in while also commenting on it.
In Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh's seeming quest to hit every point on the cinematic genre map - he's done Oscar-bait drama (Traffic, Erin Brockovich), experimental curios (Bubble), oddball stand-alones (The Girlfriend Experience), mainstream thrillers (Contagion), a cerebral sci-fi mini-epic (Solaris), and even a hard-driving action flick (Haywire) - the revered filmmaker now seems to be taking on film projects as a dare. As in, how could a movie about male strippers possibly be any good? Well, witness Magic Mike, quite possibly the best movie that you could make on quite possibly the lamest subject in Hollywood history. And no, this is not some dark-night-of-the-soul descent into a perverse and sleazy world. Despite its raunchy abs-and-butt spruiking dance sequences, and fizzy dalliances with sex and drugs, Magic Mike is a relatively wholesome coming of age story...though not of the character that you'd expect.
Despite Steven Soderbergh being at the helm, the driving force behind Magic Mike is undoubtedly Channing Tatum. A talented professional dancer (as evidenced in the Step Up movies), the star of Dear John, The Vow and 21 Jump Street also worked briefly as an exotic dancer before he hit the big time. Always convinced that his experiences would make for a good movie, Tatum took the concept to his Haywire director, and the comedy-drama, Magic Mike, was born. Tatum plays the eponymous stripper, a seasoned performer who teaches young buck, Adam (Alex Pettyfer), the often lurid tricks of the trade, all under the watchful eye of their troupe's leader, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). But Mike is starting to see the errors of his vacuous, hustling ways, and in the shapely but wholly sensible form of Adam's older sister, Brooke (Cody Horn), he sees an emotional escape route from his cheap and wholly compromised life.
Though working within a somewhat limited range as an actor, Tatum gives a career-best performance here, making Mike a curiously sympathetic figure. He has dreams of making refashioned furniture and living a better, more meaningful life, but he's become trapped on a bump-and-grind merry-go-round that he can never quite get off. Mike is flawed and funny, and he provides the weight to the film's much touted stripping sequences, to which the actors (Tatum, McConaughey, Pettyfer, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and Kevin Nash) all admirably commit with shocking abandon.
Ironically, though Soderbergh seems high on the thrill of these scenes, he also crafts something of a cautionary tale with Magic Mike, in which immersion in this preening, posing, peacock-like lifestyle brings about a mess of broken dreams, quiet desperation, and a slow corrosion of the soul. We see it in the easy corruption of Adam (who, as played by the smug-looking Alex Pettyfer, is never actually that likeable to begin with), who eventually gets burned by selling drugs and failing to take responsibility for any of his dead-headed decisions. Thankfully, Mike's ascension to something better (and his sparky, sexy interactions with the level-headed Brooke, played with wonderful sass and spunk by the gorgeous Cody Horn, whose name could probably have been reappropriated for one of the film's strippers) gives the film a nice, warm glow. McConaughey's hilarious turn as male stripping's answer to Yoda, meanwhile, provides much of the film's ribald humour. Shot in Soderbergh's trademark cool, restrained style, Magic Mike entertainingly has its cake and eats it too by reveling in the seamy, sleazy world of male stripping, but never suggesting it as a sensible career path.