Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Magic Mike"

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Reid Carolin, starring, Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Matthew McConaughey - Rated R

If you only watch one Channing Tatum movie that appears to be aimed exclusively at women, make it this one.




 
First off, let me state than I am a man and I watched Magic Mike.  Not only did I watch it, I wanted to watch it.  I did go see it with my girlfriend, but she didn’t drag me to it or anything.  In fact, I asked her if she wanted to see it.  This was a film directed by Steven Soderbergh, after all, and he tends to make interesting films.  As I sat in the theater on opening night, I started to doubt my choice.  The theater was filled with very talkative, excited women and maybe three or four fellow men.  There were cheers when the lights went out, and when Channing Tatum’s naked rear end is revealed in the first few minutes, the crowd erupted with glee.  I definitely felt out of place.  I started to wonder if Magic Mike was truly meant for women and women only.  As I continued to watch I realized that all the women on Facebook and the men shaking their heads when they saw the previews were wrong: Magic Mike is not a movie for women, it’s simply a good movie. 

Note to women: This review is mainly an appeal to guys to give this movie a chance.  I know most women definitely want to see this and from what I can tell, they have really enjoyed it.  So don’t look to me if you’re not sure if you want to see it or not.  Ask some of your female friends, because I’m sure their opinion means a lot more than mine on this one.

Magic Mike is a movie about male strippers and that is why men refuse to watch it and women insist on going in droves.  But this isn’t just a nonstop stripping performance.  Sure, there are plenty of scenes with mostly nude dudes (a couple too many in my opinion and about a hundred too few in a woman’s opinion), but there is still a story, and an entertaining one at that. 

The story itself is a bit on the plain side, once you get past the male stripper aspect of it.  Channing Tatum plays the titular Mike, an ambitious entrepreneur who is only stripping to bankroll something a bit more normal.  He comes across Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a young man drifting aimlessly through life.  Mike introduces Adam to the world of male stripping and things get a bit more complicated after that.  Not to give anything away, but Magic Mike contains all the usual elements of a mentor-protégé film.  There are good times, drugs, serious moments, highs, lows, etc.  The important thing to know is that the film never delves too far into melodrama because it really is a movie about having a good time.

Women will definitely have a better time with this than most men.  But once again, men should not avoid this.  Hear me out.  The stripping/dancing scenes may be intended for women, but not exclusively.  I wasn’t going to look away or hide my eyes for fear of losing my heterosexuality, so I did watch all the scenes and I found myself laughing quite consistently.  I found the dancing to be ridiculous to the point of hilarity.  It’s not bad dancing (trust me, I know I can’t move like that), it’s good, which makes it funny.  Maybe women find it sensual or something, but I found it hilarious…and impressive.  As much as I hate to admit it, Tatum can dance to the point that it is the equivalent of an action scene in a regular summer movie.

Something else I hate to admit, I’m really enjoying Tatum’s work lately.  He was hilarious in 21 Jump Street and he pretty much carries this film.  He doesn’t have to do much in the way of heavy lifting, but he’s still the anchor of the film.  Alex Pettyfer does okay as an aimless kid and transitions well into brashness.   The supporting cast is serviceable, but Matthew McConaughey is the only true standout.  As the emcee of the strip club, I believe he has found the role he was born to play.  It seems natural to hear him drawl out his catch phrase (“All right, all right, all right”) and he even looks at home playing the bongos on stage.  He coaches the strippers with a hilarious intensity and he’s capable of being realistically slimy when things don’t go his way.  He definitely had a lot of fun with this role.

The actors were never the reason I wanted to see this, though.  It was because it was a Soderbergh film.  To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed because it was kind of plainly directed.  Sure, you get the lighting and coloring of a Soderbergh film and a documentary feel to it, but I found it a bit lacking in style.  Thankfully, the humor makes up for it.

Overall, Magic Mike is an enjoyable, funny film that both men and women can enjoy.  Still disagree and think this is a chick flick?  All I can say is watch it and find out.  I will leave you with this, though.  I was dragged to see another Channing Tatum movie earlier this year: The Vow.  I left that film with almost no opinion of it (I didn’t even write a review) because I could tell that it was not meant for me.  I walked out of the theater after Magic Mike and I definitely had an opinion and that was, “That was a fun movie…even if I did have to see a few butts.” 

Random Thoughts (SPOILERS, I guess?)

Kevin Nash's appearance was a funny surprise.  It was even funnier when he attempted to dance.  That man cannot move.  He was funny, though.

I wasn't entirely clear what the deal was with Olivia Munn near the end.  If that was her fiance at the end then he was way too cool with Tatum showing up like that.  I guess the odds are that he was not her fiance, but just her date or something.  I did like the whole point of her character, though.  She was there to make Tatum feel like so many tossed away women.  She keeps lying about how she is going to call him and once she finds something lasting, she ditches him altogether. 

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