Steven Soderbergh and male strippers in the same sentence? Now that is something hard to swallow but the idea has materialised and unless you’re into that sort of stuff, Magic Mike might be one to skip.
Mike is a jack of all trades by day but when the sun sets, he transforms into Magic Mike – stripper extraordinair at a local club. Upon finding a hopeless slacker at a construction site, he bestows upon him the opportunity to prove his worth on the stage which sparks a deep friendship.
Magic Mike excels at one thing and one thing only – the electric dance sequences that take place in the exotic Xquisite strip club. These scenes are filled with energy, comedy (if you’re one to cringe), and showcases the athleticism of the actors – especially Tatum. For this, Steven Soderbergh should give himself a pat on the back.
In fact, if this film where just one extended strip scene or expose, I’m confident that I would have awarded it a better result. But unfortunately he did try to implement a story, a story that literally gets smothered by the aforementioned club moments. The story had potential but never materialises into something other than a basic coming of age tale (with the obligatory drug dynamic shoehorned in).
However, inbetween this issue is a silver lining. Steven Soderbergh has succeeded in casting a talented, and suitable force of actors that are convincing and entertaining. Channing Tatum as the lead takes advantage of all his skills as a romcom lead in addition to his bulked up physique.
Mathew McConaughey provides the comedy with his outrageous character in a supporting role in what arguably could be one of his deepest performances (which is pretty sad actually). The rest of the gang form a good support as well – they compliment the main talents but aren’t anything exceptional.
Based on all the marketing I’ve seen, this movie is targeted at middle aged women. Regardless of this, I’d have to say that the beefyness of it all should appeal to females of all dispositions (providing that they’re above 16 of course). Guys should probably give this a pass, the best part of the film are the stripping sequences and unless that sounds like fun to you – the whole film will be of little merit.
The Bottom Line
The stripping is what makes Magic Mike, er magic I guess. It isn’t the story, or the relationships – this is a purely character driven movie that can be funny at times but the quirkiness of the concept is what sells it. My biggest complaint is that Soderbergh has put less of an effort into the fundamentals of the film and too much into the stripping scenes – this is all good and well but why the sacrifice when there easily could have been a deep and satisfying look into a lifestyle that is very much foreign territory?