If there was one film this year I’d have said didn’t need to be made, it was Magic Mike. Based loosely on Channing Tatum’s own real-life experiences as a stripper prior to his transition to “acting”, the film follows Mike (Tatum) as he comes to a crossroads; realizing he can’t be a stripper forever and wanting a more stable, respectable professional life. Along the way he takes on the role of mentor to a shiftless 19-year old (Alex Pettyfer) who just so happens to have a sister (Cody Horn) that’s the opposite of all the party girls their world generally offers. Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen in the end?
First off, I realize that it’s generous to say that 1% of audiences interested in seeing this movie care whether it has a plot or character development. From discussions with friends and the squealing of the screening audience as the showtime drew near, I feel safe in saying that those filmmaking elements are their last concern. It’s all about the ripped bodies gyrating on-screen.
To that end, the movie starts exactly as it should. Tatum and Pettyfer are joined by Adam Rodriguez, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash as the performers on the Tampa, Florida stage owned by Matthew McConaughey. They give the women a show and give us a glimpse of what goes on behind the curtain.
The opening 30 minutes are quite good, actually. The manner in which Tatum uses Pettyfer to rope in some customers is handled well, seeing the guys goof off backstage is fun, and McConaughey is clearly enjoying himself and probably being paid by the number of times he says “All right, All right, All right”. After setting the table for things though, it seems director Steven Soderbergh felt the pressure to wrap things up and the movie devolves into a lazy, predictable and, almost flat mess.
But bear with me, I know anyone reading this review has already made up their mind to see or skip the film. Again, it’s not about the filmmaking, your decision to head to a theater for this are likely made with the less critical side of your brain. However, just realize that after those first 30 minutes, there really isn’t any reason to stick around; no matter if you were there because you appreciate Soderbergh’s films or because you appreciate Tatum’s body. Aside from a late dance from McConaughey himself, you’ll have seen everyone stripped down (from behind, this isn’t Shame) and unless you’re a fan of poorly developed relationships you’re better off imagining the ending yourself (you’d do a better job).
The shame of it all is that this should have been Tatum at his finest. This is a shade of his former life and for two-thirds of the movie he’s quite believable. As Soderbergh begins to sloppily tie everything up, Tatum mistakes stuttering for emotion and the urge to laugh at the film I figured would be evident throughout came to fruition.
Still, this is one of those film that’s basically critic-proof. Anyone titillated by the notion of these guys grinding away probably has already made plans with their friends to make a night of it. Anyone turned off by this concept would probably need to be paid a healthy sum of money or promised special favors by their significant other to get anywhere near the theater. However, if you care what I think (and if you read all the way through this I thank you), Magic Mike starts with some promise and then falls apart. It fails to learn from its own message and simply allow the boys to dance on stage and look pretty. Attempting to grow a brain was the last thing anyone but Soderbergh wanted.
Even with a topless Olivia Munn (in the first 30 minutes like everything else worth seeing), the shoddy script and breakdown in acting make the experience as a whole anything but worth the price of admission. But hey, I’m essentially the opposite of the intended demographic, so maybe you won’t be too worried about the slight nature of the film. If so, I wish you well. But ladies, please do your boyfriends and husbands a favor and leave them at home. If they’ve done anything to warrant this kind of punishment, your relationship has far bigger problems.
Magic Mike hits theaters on June 29, 2012 and is rated R for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use.
Follow Us On: