Friday, June 29, 2012


Ever since word first leaked out that Steven Soderbergh was directing a film based on the pre-Hollywood stripping life of heartthrob Channing Tatum, the anticipation has been building for Magic Mike.  And now, after months of anticipation, the actual film sort of feels like the morning after a one night stand where you realize, the person you thought was so hot the night before, isn't all that hot and is even less interesting when you actually try to have a conversation with them.

In the beginning we meet Mike (Tatum), construction worker and auto detailer by day and exotic dancer by night, waking up from a threesome with two sexy ladies, one of which's name he can't remember.  The other is Joanna (Olivia Munn), a sexy, bi-sexual, psych student we later find out is studying nightlife workers like Mike for school.  Had these two really connected something interesting could have been explored with their relationship and the chemistry with the two actors could have been explored more, but alas the script feels like it's doing all it can to avoid being intriguing or fresh in the least.  Instead a nineteen year-old slacker named Adam (Alex Pettyfer) shows up at Mike's construction site with no experience and a busted hooptie and Mike, being the stripper with the heart of gold that he is, gives him a ride home where he meets Alex's older sister Brooke (Cody Horn), who is only slightly more lifelike an actress than Kristen Stewart.  Of course, Brooke has a boring boyfriend who she and Adam have dinner with that night and when Adam can't take it anymore he heads out of the restaurant where he runs into Mike at a nearby club.  Mike encourages him to talk to a girl celebrating her 21st birthday and before he knows it he's giving her a lap dance at Xquisite, the nightclub where Mike dances.

Soon after, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), the owner, decides to take him on as a dancer and make him a part of the gang.  The other guys include Ken (Matt Bomer) nicknamed for his made-by-Mattel good looks, Tito (Adam Rodriguez), the latin lothario, Tarzan (Kevin Nash), the wild man and Big Dick Richie (Joe Mangianello), named for obvious reasons.  It would have been nice to find out if the guys were as colorful as their nicknames, but they don't do much other than a few awkwardly choreographed group dances and brief solos throughout the film that are too cheesy to be sexy.  The cheesiness wouldn't have been so bad if the film was a straight forward comedy like The Full Monty, but about half way through it tries to become Boogie Nights-lite and completely loses its way.

Adam gets into drugs, Mike gets rejected for a business loan and everyone else seems to be waiting around for something to do.  There were several scenes that felt like they were improvised, but not in an inventive Knocked Up kind of way, but more of an experimental way that would have worked better with comedians or skilled improvisors.  The romance with Mike and Brooke falls totally flat since the charm is only coming from his end.  Adam's downfall is pretty much ignored by the end of the film.  There are no consequences for his actions and taking care of him just serves as a device to bring Mike and Brooke together.  Worst of all, the sexy stripping that everyone has been waiting for is pretty anti-climactic.  Tatum is clearly the best (read: only) dancer in the bunch, but he mostly pop-locks as if his character from the Step Up movies has turned to stripping.  It's cool to watch, but not necessarily sexy.  The only one of the men with any real sex appeal ends up being Matthew McConaughey who, as the elder statesman, is the host of the show and only really gets one actual strip tease towards the end, but he earns it, and as far as those scenes go it's a highlight.

Overall, the "magic" in Magic Mike is utterly lacking, but if you just want to see some pretty actors in thongs, rent it and get someone to wake you up during the "good" parts because they are few and far between.

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