Steven Soderbergh's latest locks on to the lives of three male strippers and a love story involving the sister of the troop's newest member.
Much of the screenplay by first-timer Reid Carolin lounges on the seedy side of male stripping and takes a fascinating look at how the strippers handle drugs, booze, babes and sex.
The men don’t handle any of them very well. Neither does Magic Mike.
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The first half of the movie is interesting. Guys, Magic Mike’s opening scenes on a gigantic theater screen is probably as close as most of you are ever going get to one of those mystical male stripper events. After catching the movie, it may be closer than you’ll ever want to get to one.
Ladies may have an entirely different point of view.
Early into Magic Mike, the gyrations of the muscled eye-candy with six-pack abs had the four ladies sitting behind me drooling and screaming. When they started flashing dollar bills, I seriously considered an umbrella and ear plugs.
Channing Tatum is Magic Mike of the film’s title. He’s the team’s show stopper. Matthew McConaughey plays the old hand at the game and the management and brains behind the troupe. The third major player is the protege done by Alex Pettyfer. An assortment of odd characters complete the group.
Magic Mike is tired of the grind. He wants to start a boutique furniture business but getting it going is complicated. While Mike wants out, Pettyfer’s (I Am Number Four) Alex — aka as The Kid — has completely fallen for the lifestyle.
Alex’s sister and Mike connect. She’s disgusted by the whole thing but tries to remain open-minded. The sister ends up being OK with it when Mike promises to babysit her brother. The Kid — who is just 19 — has other ideas and is completely out of control.
The film has a few upsides. The actors are buffed to the max and the choreography, though heavily edited, is pretty good. In real life, Tatum at one time made his living as a male stripper. Tatum’s Magic Mike is likable, even sympathetic. He’s also very good when stripping and shows that the exceptional dancing skills in one of his early films, Step Up are no fluke.
There are downsides, and they start with the acting. Agreed, Tatum is a photogenic hunk, but photogenic doesn’t overcome a monosyllabic delivery. Give Tatum, co-star Pettyfer or any of the cast’s pretty boys more than two or three lines and the lack of true talent becomes painfully obvious.
The film’s scene stealer is McConaughey. He has the advantage of being the only member of the cast who can really act. McConaughey bumps, grinds and works every movement and every line as if it’s the one that will get him an Academy Award. He has a blast, and his way-over-the-top performance is the real reason to see Magic Mike.
Not much else is.
By the going-nowhere middle and the overdone ending, there’s just too much Mike and not close to enough magic.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars
Director: Steven SoderbergStars: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Munn, Cody Horne
Rated R for language, drug use, drinking, sex, nudity. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.