Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh, 2012) 3/4
Excuse me Brokeback Mountain, you need to move aside, Magic Mike is now the gayest movie of all time. Full of (mostly) naked men for over half the movie, and multiple sassy looks by all of them, this is not a movie for the heterosexual female, this one is for the gay man. Now, most will be upset with that statement because 85% of the audience that went to the film this weekend did in-fact have a vagina, yet I would like to bet many of them came out displeased. Yes, you get to see Channing Tatum and multiple other men dance around in thongs and bowties as they do a wonderfully choreographed dance routine, but that’s all you really get. This may be enough for some women but the audience I was with seemed a little bored by the end, especially because they stopped making oohs and ahhs after the first ten minutes. Is it because of the ridiculously obvious homoerotic tendencies between all the male characters? I would like to think it is.
Magic Mike tells the story of Adam aka “The Kid” (Alex Pettyfer), who lives with his sister in Tampa Florida after loosing a football scholarship due to a fight with the coach. While working construction, he meets Mike Lane (Channing Tatum), a 30-year-old entrepreneur male stripper. While half tricking him into coming to the club, Mike makes Adam help out at the male club for one night. When something goes wrong and the hilariously awesome Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) needs another act, Adam is forced to go out on stage and take off his clothes. Impressing Dallas, the manager of the club, he offers Adam a spot at the club. While he experiences the excitement and the ecstasy (no, really) his life spins out of control and his relationship with his sister goes uneasy.
The film plays out like most backstage films and lets the audience experience a life they always dreamed about while then reminding them why they should stick to their day job. Director Steven Soderbergh is a huge genre jumper when it comes to directing films, but I feel that makes him one of the strongest leaders in the industry today. His last film, this years Haywire was the worst piece of garbage I have ever seen; never have I hated a movie so much during viewing. I was very worried that Soderbergh had lost his touch and was out of connect with his early brilliance as a director, Magic Mike has restored that faith. The way the club scenes were done simply made me smile and it just wasn’t because there were strippers everywhere, it was because the scenes were actually beautiful. It takes someone talented to show beauty within a strip club but honestly, Soderbergh does it with elegance.
The characters within Magic Mike are awesome and really add depth to the otherwise lacking storyline. It’s typical to have unique characters in backstage films but the film makes it feel exciting and new, most likely because of the subject matter. Channing Tatum’s character is half fun and crazy stripper, half sensitive “I want to be something in life” kind of guy. That honestly sounds really dumb on paper but Tatum’s performance is shockingly well and is definitely a breakout performance of this year. The rest of the cast, Matt Bomer, Cody Horn, Joe Manganiello, Olivia Munn, and of course, Matthew McConaughey are amazing together and all bring fun and an unusual amount of depth to the film. The sister played by Cody Horn is annoying as hell and has a terrible laugh, but her character and purpose in the film pulls off well in the end.
Overall, Magic Mike is a great “rise and fall of a star” movie. The story is thin and doesn’t offer a very deep plotline but is saved by its fun and charismatic characters. Soderbergh’s direction and use of filters brings across a cool, cocky, and fun atmosphere that leaves you wanting more. The homoerotic tendencies by all the strippers are possibly normal for the type of people, but I really feel Soderbergh chose to push that envelope more to please the gay audience. The films overly sexual characters are a joy to watch because they are as real as it gets, portraying the average American twenty-something. In the end, Magic Mike is Channing Tatum’s film and it proves he can act and is destined for more stardom, even though his bare ass distracts that a little.