Title: Magic Mike
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias
There’s no denying that I’ve got a list of actors I simply enjoy looking at, regardless of the material or their performance. However, in all honesty, I’m not usually one to seek out a film for the sake of eye candy alone. But Magic Mike is a different story and, can you blame me? While I definitely got what I came for in that respect, Magic Mike turned out to be much more than a star-studded peep show of a feature; it’s got substance.
Nineteen years old, living with his sister and having a tough time finding work, Adam’s (Alex Pettyfer) got it a little rough. However, after getting a roofing gig on Craigslist, Adam meets Mike (Channing Tatum) and soon after that, the money starts rolling in.
It turns out, construction is just Mike’s day job. At night, the ladies shower him with cash. Mike, or Magic Mike, is a stripper at Xquisite Male Dance Revue in Tampa. Along with Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and head honcho Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), Mike hits the stage every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night to a riotously adoring crowds. When the opportunity arises for Adam to slip in, he surprises himself and turns out to be a natural.
The Magic Mike marketing campaign will undoubtedly pull in a crowd, a very particular crowd with their eyes on a few very particular cast members. However, not only does Magic Mike make due in the eye candy department, but the film actually boasts impressive performances, moving storylines and even a very visceral tone.
The film has Steven Soderbergh written all over it, his authorial expressivity takes the film from run-of-the-mill summer season release to something that wholly defies the common denominator. Visually, Magic Mike definitely isn’t a crisp and clean experience. The footage often has a hue that changes from location to location; at times it’s noticeably yellow, but it also segments the movie quite nicely, never letting any beat or action feel repetitive. Soderbergh nearly does away with standard coverage all together, frequently ditching medium shots on each character for a wider frame and letting moments play out a bit before cutting, something that greatly benefits the performances.
Tatum is on top of his game in every sense. Of course he’s quite nice to look at and has downright incredible dance moves, but he also presents Mike as a notably layered and deeply emotional character. Trouble is, this is a direct contrast to Pettyfer who, as usual, has the emotional range of a spoon. It’s too bad Soderbergh and screenwriter Reid Carolin didn’t stick with the title and make this entirely Magic Mike’s movie because the parts we experience from Adam’s perspective are distractingly flat. Tatum is wildly charming as Mike whereas Pettyfer presents Adam as an absolute jerk who’s also impossible to read.
We bounce back with an alluring performance from Cody Horn as Adam’s sister and Mike’s crush, Brooke. Brooke’s relationship with Mike isn’t as believable as one would hope, but the fact that Horn’s leading lady isn’t your typical model who goes to bed and wakes up with a face full of makeup makes her feel truly kind, down-to-earth and someone you want to root for. Dallas, on the other hand, will have you split right down the middle. McConaughey is an absolute blast to watch, but sour dealings with Mike turn him into a powerful villain and McConaughey has no trouble making the transition.
The large majority of the rest of the cast is there for one purpose and one purpose only, for fun, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you’re checking out Magic Mike for the show, you won’t be disappointed, but keep in mind that that isn’t all there is to it. Magic Mike is a particularly stylized film for a studio wide release, so for those just looking for a cruise control experience, you’re going to have to adjust. The strippers are present and accounted for, but so is a surprisingly thoughtful plot that actually manages to steal the spotlight quite often. Turns out, these strippers really do have feelings, too.