Friday, June 29

Magic Mike Review

Magic Mike
Dir: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey,
and Alex Pettyfer

Director Steven Soderbergh is meticulous about process and routine, this is seen prominently with his recent films The Girlfriend Experience and Haywire. While the plotlines of these films are paper-thin, Soderbergh has a gift for making even the most mundane elements seem important. Magic Mike, underneath all the sex appeal, tries hard to be a cautionary tale about the dangers of excess but more often than not feels too safe and glamorized to really explore those themes, however for some viewers that might not be a bad thing.

The film takes place over a summer in Tampa Bay, Florida. Mike (Channing Tatum) is a struggling entrepreneur burdened by a slumping economy; he is working several jobs trying to get his custom furniture dream off the ground. However, by night, Mike is the star of the all male strip club Xquisite performing under the stage name Magic Mike. Mike is a creature of routine, his charisma and personality offering opportunity and favor with everyone he encounters, he works day and night methodically saving every single bill he makes.

 Mike works for Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), an egoistical and enigmatic former stripper turned club owner who is trying to make the big step of moving into a larger market in the thriving Miami scene. Mike recruits a hapless nineteen-year-old named Adam (Alex Pettyfer), who lives on his sister's (Cody Horn) couch, and immediately becomes infatuated with the world Mike lives in and takes the opportunity as an invitation to live a life of excess without regard for anyone but himself.

Soderbergh explores the routine of these performers daily lives. From shopping, to work outs, and even late night rendezvous with adoring fans from the show; it’s all a process of their job on the stage. To an extent Soderbergh achieves this narrative element however it’s also lopsided, we are invited into all the glamour of the world but never really confront the dangers or perils of the lifestyle. This askew narrative element stalls the film around the midpoint and keeps the film from taking that next crucial dramatic step, which in less experienced hands would ruin the experience but in Soderbergh's keeping allows the film to continue to limber with interest.

The crew of Club Xquisite is a mix of recognizable faces, and while the film focuses primarily around just a few of them the camaraderie that’s achieved is impressive. Matthew McConaughey gives a show stopping performance; he’s sarcastic, arrogant and harbors an underlying dark side but is also surprisingly likable at times. McConaughey seems tailored to play this role; it makes one wonder just how much of a stretch it actually was for him. Channing Tatum plays the pivotal role of Mike with the typical sex appeal he’s known for; but while his dancing talents add some unique choreography his dramatic acting just isn’t that good. Cody Horn is good as the love interest Brooke, she has a natural and relaxed attitude that allows her character to challenge Mike throughout the film.

Magic Mike starts off promising and entertaining; there is an uncanny energy that director Steven Soderbergh crafts with the characters from the start. The film embraces the glamorous aspects of adult entertainment, the idea of all fun with no consequence; however, while this idea might entertain those that are looking for nothing more than sexy dance sequences and chiseled physiques, which there is aplenty, it prevents the characters and the film from excelling beyond the superficial.

Monte’s Rating
3.00 out of 5.00

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