Magic Mike – Review (2)


Tatum shows off his sweet abs and dance skills, still needs to improve acting chops.

Director Steven Soderbergh’s film career has covered many subject matters from drug trafficking to Che Guevara to the Ocean‘s trilogy. So it should really come as no surprise that he would be the big name director to tackle the subject of male strippers. Based on Channing Tatum’s personal experiences, this was his passion project, but is this the film that will elevate him from pretty boy to respected leading man?

Magic Mike tells the story of Mike (Tatum) a male stripper with dreams of having his own furniture design store. While working a construction job he meets 19 year old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) he sees something in him and gets him a job at the strip joint he works at run by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey in one of the better roles he’s had in a while). Adam starts out as a back stage hand but ends up on stage in front of the ladies with the moniker The Kid. Adam introduces Mike to his protective older sister Brooke (Cody Horn) who isn’t to excited about her brother’s new chosen profession.

Mike promises to take care of Adam as he starts to fall for Brooke, all while still sleeping around with tons of other chicks, often having threesomes and such. Adam loves this new lifestyle and after one training session seems to have nailed all the necessary dance moves to woo the ladies. However, Adam starts to get into drugs and things turn south for everyone. Dallas has big plans to move the operation from Tamp to Miami but Mike must decide if he willing to make that kind of commitment.

Sure, the film is about male strippers and has tons of dance sequences showcasing the dancers moves, especially Tatum who can really bust a move. However, being that this is a Soderbergh film, the focus of the story is on the relationships between Mike, Adam and Brooke. And there in lies the biggest problem of the film. Not only does one never really get into the characters enough to care about what happens to them, but the stakes are never raised to a significant level to where it feels like something important is about to happen. Sure Adam gets into the drugs, but even that just ends up seeming like no big deal.

McConaughey steals the show as the sleazy washed up Dallas. It’s obvious Dallas has been doing this a long time and he’s but all his eggs in the basket that is Mike and Adam. He acts like the big cheese but he’s just over compensating for being a total has been. This is one of the more interesting and dynamic characters that McConaughey has played in a long time.

While Tatum surely has the looks and the skill to pull of a male stripper (I mean he did do it in real life!) he still doesn’t quite have the acting chops to sell the more dramatic scenes. When he’s on stage dancing for the ladies or flirting off stage his charisma explodes off the screen and nails every person watching the film. However, when the more serious scenes come and he has to sell his emotions with his performances and the dialog he doesn’t quite hit the notes he needs to. He’s never terrible, but he has a long way to go to become an effective leading man.

Pettyfer is fine as The Kid and does a great job of showing how a 19 year old getting this business would act. Horn does what she can with Brooke, but beyond being protective of her brother and falling for Mike she really doesn’t have much to work with. The movie gets credit for drawing out the building up of Mike and Brooke’s relationship. They don’t just fall instantly in love like one might expect and this is one of the stronger aspects of the film.

Going into the film, I must admit I was hoping for a train wreck along the lines of Showgirls. However, Soderbergh manages to but together a film that is actually very entertaining and shows that Tatum may have some potential to be a good actor somewhere down the line. The film fails in that there really are no major stakes involved with any of the characters. There is never any worry that any of their lives will be destroyed over any of their decisions. Even when Adam gets into the drugs, the stakes are never pushed to the level that they should be. But perhaps that’s not the kind of story Soderbergh was trying to tell here. Either way, it’s a fun film that will entertain. Some will be frustrated at the potential the film has to be really good, others will simply enjoy it for all the hot bods on screen.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Notable Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey and Cody Horn
Writer: Reid Carolin

Tags: , , , , ,