I don’t prefer male strippers in real life, but as soon as I saw the commercial for Magic Mike, I said, “I’m in.” What can I say? I appreciate all things aesthetically pleasing, and there was eye candy in abundance. Unfortunately my girlfriends did not share my enthusiasm, and I could not get anyone to go see it with me. I don’t discriminate, and there were at least three actors in this movie that I wanted to see. That would be Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer), and Alex Pettyfer (Beastly). Manganiello stole my heart as werewolf Alcide Herveaux on True Blood, Matthew McConaughey has been fine since A Time to Kill, and Alex Pettyfer got my attention in I Am Number Four. Now Channing Tatum (The Vow) does nothing for me, so he’s not included in that list. The fact that Steven Soderbergh (most recently of Haywire) directed it also lent an air of credibility to what otherwise seemed like a fluff movie.
Tatum stars as “Magic” Mike, a hard-working guy in Tampa just trying to make ends meet until he can start his own furniture business. He’s the kind of guy who does a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Construction by day, stripping by night. When he arrives to work at the construction site one day he meets new guy Adam (Pettyfer), a young kid on his first day at the job. Mike is affable and experienced, and he immediately takes Adam under his wing. Later that night Adam runs into Mike outside of his second job, a strip club owned by McCounaghey’s character Dallas, one part cowboy, one part surfer dude. He both owns and “dances” at the club, and if you thought Matty had fallen off, I’m here to tell you he’s still got it. I mean you could literally wash clothes on the man’s stomach, but I digress. Mike introduces Adam to Dallas as “the kid,” and at 19, it fits. Adam watches Mike perform, mesmerized by the effect he has on the crowd of women tearing at his clothes. Tatum was actually a Florida stripper before making it big, so I’m guessing this was just like old times. Later when Dallas needs to fill dead air and none of the other guys can go on stage, The Kid is thrust into the spotlight. He timidly inches out on the stage while the women cheer him on. He lacks the polish and finesse of the others, but he gets a warm reception and a star is born. Soon Adam is living a wild new lifestyle, much to the dismay of his protective older sister (Cody Horn) Brooke, with whom he lives. Complicating things for Mike are the developing feelings he has for Brooke, and a promise that he makes to look out for her little brother – who is dangerously out of his league in the fast lane.
Magic Mike was an odd movie, to me. Let’s start with what worked. First of all, it was funny in a cheesy, tongue-in-cheek sort of way. Matthew McConaughey clearly relished every moment on screen in all his bare-chested glory. I don’t think Channing Tatum is the best actor in the world, but there is something charming and accessible about him. His experience was obvious, as he was the only one who could really dance. Yep, this is the guy from the corny ass Step Up movie folks. The women in my theater were practically in heat when he and Alex Pettyfer were on screen, audibly yelping and giggling like teenagers. Despite the eye candy, Magic Mike wasn’t perfect. The idea of a male strip club is a little far-fetched. Most male strippers are patronized by gay men. The idea of a packed house full of clamoring women isn’t very realistic. And I always say that the way you begin and end a movie are extremely key in the audience’s perception of what they’ve digested. Magic Mike ended so abruptly that everyone was kind of like, “that’s it?” The resolution felt rushed, and then boom – roll credits. I thought that it could have been a little better (it was really corny sometimes), but it managed to live up to the limited expectations I had for it. I think you either want to see this movie or you don’t, and a word from me won’t really matter. That’s why I couldn’t convince any of my friends to go with me. But if you don’t have enough singles for the strip club, maybe you can treat yourself to a Magic Mike movie matinee. Say that three times fast. Grade: B.