If you are of the female persuasion, you probably have seen the trailers and TV spots for Magic Mike. There is a little part of me that squeals like a teenage girl each time I see them. While going to see some of the hottest male stars strip down to their G-strings is reason enough to make it out to see Magic Mike, I questioned how good of a film it could really be. Was there going to be a good story behind all of the naked guys thrusting their junk on very lucky female extras?
While you may gather from the trailers that there is a lot of stripping in this film, it mostly revolves around Mike (Channing Tatum) who strips a few nights a week to help him establish a business of his own. During one of his day jobs, Mike meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), and they become acquaintances. Their friendship is taken to the next level when Mike brings Adam to his other job, a male strip club called Xposure. Seeing as Adam owes Mike a favor, Adam is quickly wrangled into helping out and ends up doing a strip tease of his own when another dancer passes out. Running Xposure is Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), a guy in his fourties who is very much into fitness, his business, and himself. The other dancers at the club are Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tarzan (former pro-wrestler Kevin Nash), and Tito (Adam Rodriguez). Adam takes quickly to the job and its benefits and becomes The Kid. All in the background of this stripping extravaganza is Adam’s protective sister, Brooke (Cody Horn). Turns out, Mike has a little crush on Brooke, but it is hard for Mike to get Brooke to see past his night job.
First off, let me just say that the strip teases are fantastic. They range from cheesy to elaborate dance routines. I admire the cojones (both in a literal and non-literal sense) on these actors to dedicate a lot of time, research, and waxing to pull this off successfully. I cannot say that any of them are not believable as strippers. While this is the major draw for the audience of Magic Mike, this is not all that is in it. At the beginning you get a really good taste of it (the puns in this review continue), but become peppered throughout the film after that.
While some may think this an odd choice for director Stephen Soderbergh, if you look at his directing resume, he is anything but a conventional choice director. If a less talented or more commercial director had taken on this project, the film could have ended up being drivel and fluff. Soderbergh shot the daytime scenes with this yellowish orange coloring to them that gave the impression of Tampa, Florida being hot and dusty. The night and strip club shots were very crisp and alive with action. This film is not shot as fluff, and is not conventional for this type of film. We probably have Soderbergh to thank for that.
I have a couple of issues with the Magic Mike besides the editing mistakes (I saw Matthew McConaughey rip his thong and the next scene did not deliver what was promised). Olivia Munn plays a girl named Joanna who apparently met Mike and had a threesome with him. She becomes his go to booty call, but there is something a little off about her character that is not fully fleshed out or explained by the end. She initially comes off as this fun gal pal, but she gets darker. I question the reason for the character at all. My second issue deals with the relationship between Mike and Brooke. While he is obviously out to get her, she is not so keen on the idea. *Spoiler* Miraculously, the last scene of the film is them beginning their relationship, which is too convenient and not believable. I would have preferred to see Mike ride off into the sunset towards a better future.
Putting it pure and simple, Magic Mike is a fun film that has its hilarious moments. Soderbergh and the actors were not afraid to have fun or make fun of themselves (cue the penis pump coming from the left side of the screen). Case in point is Matthew McConaughey playing the bongos and saying “Alright, Alright, Alright” repeatedly. You can tell that all involved had a good time making Magic Mike. While I may bet that the audience will be mostly female, this is an equal opportunity film. Guys, you are not forgotten. Just go see this film and have a good time watching what Soderbergh and crew have come up with (lousy pun) this time.
I give Magic Mike 4 “penis pumps” out of 5.
by Sarah Ksiazek