Friday, June 29, 2012
Movie review: Magic Mike
Go for the dancing and stay for the ... well, that's pretty much it.
Insecure men may experience more than a few moments of jealousy when watching the latest Steven Soderbergh film, Magic Mike. Chronicling the world of male strippers, it shows men with impossibly chiseled bodies, women – including the viewing audience in the theater – screaming at the very sight of them, and money coming in by the thongfull (and trust me, it’s a lot).
Channing Tatum portrays the titular character, a 30-ish guy who considers stripping to be merely the launching-off point for other pursuits, including car detailing and one-of-a-kind furniture crafting. On a whim, he invites Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a young kid he just met, to join the crew at Xquisite, the club owned by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). He’s welcomed with open arms by the other dancers, which include Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), and – ahem – Big Dick Richie (Joe Mangienello).
The film attempts to detail the changes that happen to Magic Mike once bringing Adam on board, including a possible move of the club from Tampa to Miami and the increasing presence of Brooke (Cody Horn), Adam’s sister, in his life. I say “attempts” because any story elements that appear in the film are merely placeholders between the stripping scenes. We hear a lot about how Mike is this ultra-busy guy who has grandiose plans, but we never actually see him being busy or – save for one trip to the bank to try to get a loan – acting on those plans. The turmoil of Adam – who supposedly has thrown away good opportunities time and again – is even less fleshed out.
What we do get are multiple scenes of guys ripping off their clothes on stage and thrusting their groins into women’s faces. And no matter whether that’s your thing or not, watching them strut their stuff is a lot of fun – for a while. The dancing scenes are ultimately the film’s lone saving grace, as all of the guys commit themselves fully to dancing and baring almost all, but it gets old relatively quickly. By the fifth or sixth iteration, even the rowdy women – and some men – in my theater were giving it the ho-hum treatment. I guess there can be too much of a good thing.
There’s only one way you would ever know that Magic Mike is a Steven Soderbergh film, and that’s from the constantly shifting color tones. Scenes are given varying tints depending on the mood and/or whim of the director. Something similar worked like a charm when he did Traffic, which had multiple story arcs and locations that needed to be differentiated. But here it just seems like a gimmick used so the film could be identifiably Soderbergh-ian.
Save for the dancing, none of the actors give a performance worth writing home about. It’s possible that they were done in by the script delivered by first-time fiction screenwriter Reid Carolin, which is light on depth and heavy on lightweight drama. But the acting comes across as amateurish in many a scene, particularly one in which Tatum stammers his way through a chat with Horn.
Soderbergh has hinted in recent years that his days as a director will soon be coming to an end. By looking at this and his last film, Haywire, it’s quite possible that he’s already phoning it in.
For showtimes for Magic Mike, click here.