A story about male strippers featuring the likes of Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughey is sure to rack up millions at the box office. But considering the fact that this dramedy was backed by an Academy Award-winning director, Magic Mike is more than just thongs, dollar bills, screaming women and sensuous grinding.
Directed by Steven Soderburgh (who won the Oscar for his work on Traffic), it’s a film that deals with the deeper themes of life such as self-destruction, aging, ambition and a bit of romance as well.
In the film, Pettyfer plays Adam, a college-dropout who’s staying with his older sister Brooke (Cody Horn) until he can figure out what he wants to do with his life. After getting hired for a construction job, he’s soon taken under the wing of Mike (Tatum), a fellow roof tiler who spends his nights dancing in Tampa’s Xquisite nightclub as a stripper.
After a night of partying, Adam is soon recruited to join Mike and his colleagues Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Ken (Matt Bomer) and Tarzan (Kevin Nash) to perform sexy strip routines every night. And soon enough, he’s immersed in a world full of drugs, sex, women and alcohol.
Mike on the other hand, craves for more despite making a profitable income as a stripper. He yearns for a relationship with someone he can sit down and have a conversation with. But instead, he’s reduced to one-night-stands with his booty call Joanna (Olivia Munn).
Job wise, he aspires to start a custom furniture business but struggles to lift off his career as an entrepreneur. But while he lacks intelligence as a business man, he’s smart enough to see how the stripping industry can change a person as they get older. As club owner Dallas (played excellently by McConaughey) proves, the career can turn you into a selfish and conceited individual.
Written by Reid Carolin (Tatum’s screenwriting partner), Magic Mike is less about the stripping and more about the lifestyles of male strippers. Inspired by Tatum’s own experiences as a young erotic dancer in Florida, the script perfectly balances between humour and drama while successfully capturing the repercussions and challenges that come with the profession (i.e drugs, self-destruction and vanity).
However, that’s not to say the film doesn’t have its fun and raunchy dance routines. With choreography provided by Alison Faulk, many of the dances are a little more embarrassing than sexy (with the exception of Tatum’s hot strip-show number to Ginuwine’s “Pony”).
Acting wise, the one who steals the show is McConaughey, who perfectly and hilariously portrays the sleazy, skin-tight-leather-wearing Dallas. Tatum and Pettyfer on the other hand, hold their own despite sounding a bit rigid and unnatural at times. And with Horn well-casted for the role of Adam’s concerned sister Brooke, it’s just too bad the other actors such as Bomer, Rodriguez, Manganiello and Nash are left in the background dancing and grinding with not much to say.
While Magic Mike never offers full-on nudity as many would expect, Soderburgh’s natural and well-paced direction provides an honest story about male strippers.
And whether or not you came to see the film for the chiseled bodies, this tale might just leave you with a different outlook on what it would be like to live as an erotic dancer.