Oh Ladies, Would You Ever Date A Stripper?

Magic Mike (2012)
A Review by Ben Hunter
3 Out of 5 Stars
June 29, 2012

It’s late on a Friday night; you’re on a girl’s night out because you’re tired of all the games played by your recent male counterparts that are no longer potentials.  You just want to live a happy life with a good guy, and your girlfriends drag you to a bar, as if alcohol is the right cure to drown your sorrows.  But this bar has a stage, and suddenly a perfect looking man appears on it.  He talks of how you can’t touch his chest, while the women all around you scream that they can.  Can you then place your hands on the back of his shoulders and then proceed down his muscular back, and continue to proceed with your hands to touch him down there?  He turns around and asks if you can handle the last hot spot on his body that you haven’t covered yet.  But the law says you can’t touch, however, there seems to be a lot of law breakers in the room … with no cops around.  You can’t believe the atmosphere you’ve found yourself surrounded yourself within.  Your femininity is telling you to contain your feelings for this amazingly beautiful and perfect looking man, but you can’t help but respond to whatever he does.  He then proceeds to introduce another perfect looking man, who moves to the music as perfect as his body is.  He is the husband that you’ve never had, the dreamboat guy that never came along, he is the one night stand that you’re having on stage with him tonight.  Your world completely stops when he ventures out into the crowd and brings you on that stage, literally fulfilling that one night stand fantasy.  You become submissive to whatever he does.  This man has rocked your world … who is he?  Suddenly it’s over, you and your girlfriends leave the bar which you’ve now realized is no bar and on the car ride home you slowly discover you’re now back on planet Earth, and back in reality. 

This is a typical Friday for Mike (Channing Tatum), an experienced stripper in Tampa working 3 jobs to make ends meet.  Stripping just happens to be one of them where his alter-ego “Magic Mike” is the fantasy for women that step out of reality and into Magic Mike’s. 

Mike wants to run his own non-adult entertainment business someday and is constantly saving to leave and really start his dreams making furniture.  He meets a young kid, Adam (Alex Pettyfer), and takes him under his wing where he gets Adam on the road to becoming just like him, naming him “The Kid”.  Mike develops feelings for Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn) who warns Mike to take care of her brother; all while trying to keep under the direction of the club owner Dallas, brilliantly played by Matthew McConaughey, who wants to take the club family to bigger and better heights by attacking the big leagues of this venue of entertainment in Miami. 

I’m happy to say I’ve finally seen a decent Steven Soderbergh film out of the 3 that he’s rushed out in the last 10 months.  Nonetheless, I believe his style of filmmaking was a little too dark and artsy in the “I’m going for the Oscar” type of way; and not in the “commercial Hollywood flick” type of way that the marketing portrays this film as (and the way this film needed to be).  Soderbergh’s “artsy cuts” or editing style so to speak just felt awkward and weird for this commercial like material.  This film should’ve easily been a good hearted, commercial, and fun movie for women and gay men all over.  Straight men could even watch the film and have an envious time of the male dancers, wanting to live their lives afterwards in a way that displays their best attributes.  But instead it was a darker, eerie, indie, artsy type of feeling; the type of filmmaking that Steven Soderbergh does.  It’s hard to even tell what this movie is, what genre?  Comedy?  Drama?  

The raw aspect of it is great though.  Entering a scene with a naked and beautiful Olivia Munn who’s topless for the first time in her career is a great move for the direction of the story; a move that’s matched by our hero.  It just doesn’t fit 100% when that scene introduced by a weird editing cut, or some kind indie filmmaker tactic of shooting the camera.  The mood of the entire film was just so eerie and weird, I kept feeling that someone was about to be dramatically sliced or shot in the head and we’d see everything because it’s an artsy movie.  This movie isn’t an artsy movie!  At least it isn’t portrayed that way in the advertisements that try to get you to go see it.  The mood put the dance scenes in a different perspective; different I’m sure from what they’re intended to be.  It’s all still passable (with a low score), but just not what it’s made out to be; I could feel the sighs from all the women around me in the theater when it got a little too long as well, good 20-30 minutes I’d say.  So definitely not what was expected from the general public.  

It has its moments; every recognizable actor in Dallas’ business playing a stripper, like Joe Manganiello (who received cheers from the women in the theater I was in), or Matt Bomer (that pretty boy from Burn Notice), or even Kevin Nash the no dancing skills at all ex-wrestler, gets their time to shine, including Matthew McConaughey which gave me a feeling of completion with the story.  Yet all the points failed to align, primarily with the relationship between Mike & Adam.  It felt like Reid Carolin (Tatum’s Iron Horse producing partner) disregarded that and focused primarily on the love interest, which I think Cody Horn failed to meet expectations there when it was time to really release the acting bug.  I received ¼ of the glass filled with water from her when I asked for a full glass. 

Nontheless, women will enjoy the nudity, the amazing dancing that Tatum gets to reprise from his Step Up days where he met his wife.  I just don’t think this film could’ve done as good as it could have had it been made properly.  The focus was off.  Let’s make money and give the audience a good time, not focus on being the best film of the year.  So put the script in the right hands to make that type of film and you’ll have the success that everyone with involvement in this project wants.

Magic Mike
Drama, 110 Minutes, R
Written by: Reid Carolin
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Cast:  Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Munn, Cody Horn, & Matthew McConaughey

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