(director: Steven Soderbergh; screenwriter: Reid Carolin; cinematographer: Steven Soderbergh; editor: Steven Soderbergh; choreography: Alison Faulk; cast: Channing Tatum (Magic Mike), Alex Pettyfer (Adam), James Marin Kelly (Sal), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas), Olivia Munn (Joanna), Cody Horn (Brooke), Matt Bomer (Ken), Kevin Nash (Tarzan), Joe Manganiello (Big Dick Richie), Adam Rodriguez (Tito), Reid Carolin (Paul), Gabriel Iglesias (Tobias), Betsy Brandt (Female Banker); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Reid Carolin/Gregory Jacobs/Channing Tatum/Nick Wechsler; Warner Bros.; 2012)
“Tatum nails his role.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The film was inspired by Channing Tatum’s short stint as an 18-year-old male stripper in Florida before making it in Hollywood. With plenty of verve Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic”/”Oceans 11″/”Contagion”)directs this appealing slice of Americana wannabe experimental comedy-drama, that looks different than a mainstream film probably because it’s so buoyantly shot. Reid Carolin cleverly writes it as a good time cautionary moralistic tale about the dangers of drugs and uninhibited sex and taking the wrong path in life by not following one’s dreams, while going easy on the message and heavy on the male strippers as eye candy.
The drama is set at the Xquisite male strip club in Tampa, Florida, where the hunky 30-year-old Mike (Channing Tatum) is the athletic fast-moving week-end feature dancer at the dance review run by the funky bare-chested and black leather pants wearing beefcake MC named Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). Mike aspires to save up enough to open his own custom furniture business, but is delayed in going after his dream because Dallas keeps him dangling by telling him he plans soon to open a bigger and more prosperous club in Miami in which he’s promised Mike a financial stake. At Mike’s construction day job he meets the 19-year-old punky college drop-out Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and soon ends up mentoring the troubled self-destructive kid to be a stripper.Though living on the fast lane, like his fellow bare-assed stripper chorus boys Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), and Ken (Matt Bomer), Mike falls for Adam’s stable perky older sister medical record keeper Brooke (Cody Horn) and tries hard to get her to see that when not on stage he’s not the Magic Mike persona but just good ole Mike–someone ready to settle down with the right girl.
The stripper dance routines are handsomely choreographed like zippy Village People routines by Alison Faulk.
The plot is not much and all too familiar, of the nice guy finally wising up and getting the good girl in the third act by showing maturity and switching from an exploitation career to one he can be more serious about. It helps greatly that the breezy naturalistic acting by the likeable Tatum and Horn is so refreshing, that McConaughey’s performance is so superbly accomplished in a fun way and that it gives the viewer an idea of how the male stripper club business functions, and that all the main characters have some depth and pass for real people. Tatum nails his role as the good-natured dude who finally realizes quick money and easy sex are not enough–one needs to take pride in doing something that matters to them and not just be some hedonistic sex object for a bunch of screaming ladies living only for flesh and money.
REVIEWED ON 7/1/2012 GRADE: A-