Jul 02 2012
This weekend, I sat down in a theater with about three hundred females to see if there was anything more to Magic Mike than a constant parade of abs and asscheeks. Though I’ve never been to a male strip club, this recent movie going experience is probably the closest I’ll ever come. With each new layer of clothing removed, there was a fresh set of screams not only in the film, but from the audience as well. I’m sure all the ladies there were lamenting they couldn’t throw dollar bills at the screen to make the whole thing 3D.
But really, I can’t judge the girls (or gays) who flock to see Magic Mike on the promise of sexiness alone. If “Magic Missy” was released in a few months starring Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and Blake Lively as strippers, I think we might see some box office records broken as the entire straight male population of the world would see it seven times in a weekend.
But alas, we’ll have to be content with a movie like Sucker Punch to appeal to our base male fantasies, even if that film permanently lowered my IQ a few points. The truth is, Hollywood has been catering to us guys for years, and on film males are usually wearing 10x the clothing of females in most genre films.
It’s about time the ladies had their due, and Magic Mike has recruited top-of-the-line hunks Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, True Blood’s Joe Manganiello and White Collar’s Matt Bomer. The last two might just be eye candy with only a few lines each, but Magnaiello is so ripped he looks like some sort of experimental government supersoldier, and Bomer might be the most physically perfect male specimen on the planet. Look at the guy, cmon:
Rather, the lead role falls to Channing Tatum, and this is really the young actor’s year. While rival up and comer Taylor Kitsch has managed to lead the two biggest box office bombs of the year (John Carter and Battleship), Tatum has done the opposite starring in 21 Jump Street and The Vow already, both big hits, and Magic Mike will likely put up some solid numbers as well.
Most patrons won’t know this, but Magic Mike is actually put together using pieces of Tatum’s old life where he did in fact get his start as a male stripper. Here as Mike, he takes newcomer Adam (Pettyfer) under his wing and they work at a club owned by the ex-showman Dallas (Matthew McConaughey who despite being 43, has the hardest body of anyone in the film).
Tatum is once again playing an impossibly good guy. Yes, he’s caught up in the rather sleezy world of stripping, but he’s always doing the right thing and is a real stand-up fella. It’s hard to find fault with anything he does, and when his protégé Adam starts to get a little too wild, it’s ultimately the boy’s fault, not Mike’s, despite him seeing it as his own failure.
Pettyfer probably has under twenty lines in the whole film, despite being the driving force of the plot.
There’s a real lack of stakes in the film which is what hurts it the most. It’s one big party for almost the entire duration, and there’s little conflict presented at any time, save for the last ten minutes or so. The stripping sessions were admittedly pretty hilarious, though I’m sure the rest of the audience found them steamy as well. In between those scenes are Mike trying earnestly to get his custom furniture business off the ground, but his bank won’t give him a loan when he plops down $13K worth of wrinkled singles on the table.
The film is very, very reminiscent of a far better movie, Boogie Nights. Both focus on a newcomer to a shady business (stripping/porn), both feature a corrupting influence that changes the characters and both even use title cards as punctuation during especially intense scenes. While Boogie Night throws up the progression of years in big bold title cards (“1988″ after a suicide for example), Magic Mike does it with months instead. It’s too obvious to not be on purpose.
But Magic Mike is not Boogie Nights, not even close. It’s not a bad film, but the focus on the world of stripping is more goofy than cautionary, and when the film tries to hit hard dramatically, it fails to land a punch as it clashes with the fun-loving tone of the rest of the film.
“Take off that damn hat before I bend the brim properly and shove it up your ass!”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through Tatum’s performances in his last five or six successful films it’s that he’s able to play a likable guy with extreme consistency. Granted, it’s usually the exact same character, but no matter what film he’s in, you’re always rooting for him. There’s just something so…earnest about him in every role, and when that’s the case even in a movie where you see his ass cheeks no less than five times, that’s really saying something.
Ladies, go wild with Magic Mike. Most of you are probably too classy to have a real life male stripper shove his junk in your face, and if you do, he’s probably not going to look like Channing Tatum. Films are supposed to be fantasy, and there’s no reason not to enjoy the abs with a mildly compelling story attached. I do however, expect my imaginary “Magic Missy” film to spring into existence if these box office receipts warrant a sequel.
3 out of 5 stars
As an exclusive bonus for males, we get Olivia Munn topless in the first two minutes of the film.
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