Film Review – Magic Mike

Magic Mike (MA)

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Olivia Munn

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

For each drug trafficking, broke single mum and deadly plague story, Steven Soderbergh always finds time to alleviate the dank and depressing streak. He put the sizzle into Out of Sight and, to some, his popular Ocean’s films are held up as the epitome of cool. It would seem only Soderbergh could find the fun in stripping. Soderbergh strips away the sleazy, seedy and disease ridden exploits of other similarly themed films (*cough* Showgirls) as quickly as his lead actors tear away their gear to ensure his audience has as good a time as the squealing women who are cheering on the naked men.

Nineteen-year-old slacker Adam (Alex Pettyfer) bunks at his sister Brooke’s (Cody Horn) house in Tampa, Florida, sleeping on her couch and with no real direction in life. He gets a job on a construction site, alongside Mike (Channing Tatum) but it lasts only for a day. He bumps into Mike outside a swanky night club, who gets him inside despite his disheveled look. But then Mike calls on Adam to return the favour – fill in for one of the members of his male strip crew when they can’t perform.

The inexperienced fellow is a hit with the ladies and is invited to come back. Manager Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) takes him under his wing and trains him up to be part of the team. Adam rides the high of being the object of women’s desires each night but soon realises this glamorous lifestyle is not what he initially thought. His overprotective sister is suspicious of his new friends and colleagues and resists Mike’s advances.

It is hard not to get swept up in the smashingly fun and infectious first half (warning: there is a lot of crotch grabbing and pelvic thrusting) which will have most people giggling and gasping at its cheeky (in more ways than one) attitude. The tone is set straight away that this is meant to be fun, and Soderbergh and writer Reid Carolin, thankfully, don’t take the material too seriously. Where it stumbles is around the middle mark where it puts the stripping on the back burner and tries to flesh out the relationships. That isn’t a problem in itself, it is just that the film makers forgot to gives us compelling characters to root for. There are long stretches of dialogue scenes and in the end it still feels like not much has been achieved.

The cast is mostly engaging – Tatum has never looked more relaxed on-screen than he does when he is strutting his stuff and getting the chance to play up his natural charm. His on-screen appeal is not matched by Horn who flits between stern stares and sickening high school girl giggles. McConaughey oozes sex cockiness and threatens to steal each scene he appears in. The other members of the strip group are mostly banished to the shadows. Once the clothes have come off, the fun dies down but the fierce gyrating routines will have you flashing your cash.


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