It’s raining men, indeed. Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Reid Carolin’s take on the world of male strip clubs—inspired by its leading man’s real-life story—bursts with eye candy and delivers a few great performances (both on-stage and off), but is dragged down by its predictable “Strippers are people, too!” plot.
Who’s in it? Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike” Lane), Cody Horn (Brooke), Alex Pettyfer (Adam, aka “The Kid”), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas), and a bunch of other good-looking beefcakey dudes.
What’s it about? Mike meets the directionless Adam while they’re both working at a construction site. Mike soon takes Adam under his wing and into the male stripping scene—specifically to the club (hilariously named Xquisite—that’s just perfect) where Mike headlines. The always-energetic-but-a-touch-sleazy manager and emcee, Dallas, decides to give Adam (now crowned “The Kid”) a chance after Mike pushes Adam onto the stage in a moment of desperation. As Adam learns literally within just a few hours that fateful night, there’s easy and seemingly unending money, booze, and women for the guys in the biz. But the good times come with a price. Adam becomes quickly overwhelmed by the darker side of the industry (namely, drugs) while Mike struggles to save up enough money to start his own custom-furniture-making business and stop baring it all for a living.
What’s good? I was a Channing Tatum doubter until I saw 21 Jump Street. The guy may look like the biggest and dumbest meathead of all time, but he actually comes off as intelligent, charming, and surprisingly funny. Combine that with the similar strengths of Matthew McConaughey in what might just be the perfect role for the bongo-loving Texan, and you’ve got a great time on your hands. The scenes with all of the guys (and no, I’m NOT just talking about the, um, “dance” routines) were what gave Magic Mike its heart. As demonstrated by the Ocean’s films, Soderbergh knows his way around male bonding and friendships, and of course Tatum’s producing partner Carolin had his star’s own pre-Hollywood exploits to work with. There’s not a bad performance or bit of dialogue to be found.
What could’ve been better? There is, however, an unnecessary character to be found. While Cody Horn owns a chilling and climactic scene where Brooke (who’s Adam’s sister) becomes crazed with anger and fear over her brother’s downward spiral, her character struck me as just “blah” otherwise. I didn’t sense a true spark between her and Mike and felt their blossoming romantic relationship was shoehorned into the plot unnecessarily. The film could’ve just as easily made its (already weak) point without Brooke. Why not let Mike be the one to lose it when Adam starts making increasingly bad choices? It would’ve kept the focus on the guys, upped the stakes for Mike to get his life together and move away from “his lifestyle,” and prevented the film from losing its energy and ending on a weak, uninspired note.
The bottom line: Soderbergh should’ve let Magic Mike live up to the ridiculous potential of its title and given the people what they really wanted to see: a high-energy, funny, and—dare I say?—smart movie about male strippers. Instead he played the tease with his talented cast and spent too much time on Mike’s personal struggle to find (and make something of) himself.
Magic Mike boasted tons of sold-out midnight and opening-night screenings, so I know some of you reading this saw it!
What did you think? Would you have preferred less seriousness and more mayhem?
Or did you appreciate that it wasn’t ALL about the showing of skin?
Love Channing Tatum? Here’s some good news: he’s in a ton of Redbox movies. Catch him keeping his clothes on in: