Friday, June 29, 2012

Movie Review: “Magic Mike”

It may not be the most magical film of the year, but Tatum keeps delivering the comedic goods.

*** ½ out of 5
110 minutes
Rated R for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use
Warner Bros. Pictures

Article first published as Movie Review: Magic Mike on Blogcritics.

If you were to choose at least one word to describe director Steven Soderbergh, prolific is definitely a top choice. The man jumps genres faster than anyone else working in and out of the Hollywood system.

From his Sundance origins (“Sex, Lies and Videotape”), he can go from an A-list all-star cast (the “Ocean’s” films) back to his independent film roots (“Bubble”) at the drop of a hat. He’s also wrangled in at least two epics in the mix as well (“Che” and “Traffic”). So it should come as no surprise that his latest films feel like a breather, considering one was about an international virus outbreak (“Contagion”). Now stepping into the hyper-contrast waters of Tampa, Florida, Soderbergh brings us what is, hopefully, a not-so-autobiographical account of Channing Tatum reliving his stripper days as “Magic Mike.”

Mike (Tatum) works by day as a roofing contractor and has big dreams of one day designing custom furniture. By night, Mike works at the male strip club Xquisite, run by the ultra-sweaty Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). One day Adam (Alex Pettyfer) shows up to work for him displaying absolutely no experience in the world of roofing. After the foreman fires him for stealing an extra Pepsi, Adam runs into Mike where he learns what he really does to make the big bucks. Mike talks Dallas into letting Adam work backstage, as he’s only 19 years old, but when they need a quick dance replacement, Mike thrusts Adam headfirst into a world full of sex, drugs, and banana hammocks.

Meanwhile, there’s a side story involving Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn, daughter of Warner Bros. President Alan F. Horn) whom Mike begins to crush on even though he can’t stop calling Joanna (Olivia Munn) for booty calls. After Adam starts to spiral out of control and things go from bad to worse after a botched sorority gig where Adam loses $10,000 in Ecstasy pills. Now Mike has to put up or shut up if he ever wants to finally get ahead in life, get the girl, and start living the good life.

Soderbergh definitely brings his independent sensibilities with him but can’t completely save the film from screenwriter Reid Carolin’s (who also plays Brooke’s first love interest, Paul) questionable script issues. But those are negligible issues when what anyone is really going to see the film for is the stripper scenes.

You could go on and on about Horn’s line delivery, which ranges from excellent to horrific in the same scene, or how Pettyfer (who looks like the love child of Ben Affleck, Ashton Kutcher, and Matthew Lillard) seriously needs to quit his day job, but that’s not why you’re here. Everyone came to see the Channing Tatum Show and when the film is focusing on him or the stripper world it pays off big time. McConaughey channels an older version of his “Dazed and Confused” character but Tatum remains the star of the show here and the man has come a long way from his “Step Up” days, proving the comedic chops displayed in “21 Jump Street” was no fluke. So if you’re looking for a good time that will surprisingly entertain both sexes, while give the girls something to look at for a change, then count on “Magic Mike” to deliver the goods.

Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

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