Film review: Magic Mike

Magic Mike
Nick Wechsler Productions

STARRING Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer
WRITTEN BY Reid Carolin
PRODUCED BY Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum, Nick Wechsler
DIRECTED BY Steven Soderbergh

SHOT BY Peter Andrews
EDITED BY Mary Ann Bernard
DISTRIBUTED BY Warner Bros. Pictures

Screened 2012-06-26

“Raw Youth”

Straight on the heels of Chicago’s rather epic gay pride parade, I again find myself gazing up at chiseled, speedo-ed, gyrating male forms, the main difference in the events being this time the throng around me is comprised of significantly more women. I recall seeing an endearing yet bafflingly-titled film in 2006 called A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, one of those Surviving The Mean Streets stories and headlined by a hungry Shia LeBeouf. But it was Channing Tatum’s presence which immediately captivated and which left me convinced I’d seen the first real role of an inevitable star.

Pelvic Olympian Magic Mike highlights the lineup at Xquisite, an all-male strip club in Tampa. The Tampa setting (hot hot hot) feels so appropriate as the film is concerned with the lifestyle of clubbing, youth, sex and X, and the superficial, undeniable obsession with flesh – you must live in a place that almost enforces nudity, hedonism, sweat and air conditioning (a cornerstone of civilization). The alpha fleshmonger of this non-college-educated coterie is Matthew McConaughey who is really quite at home in this slimy skin. His creep vibe is bolstered by a bizarre insectoid necklace which he probably thinks is sexy – it looks like a prize worm (I loved it).

We’re going to wrap this one up very quickly:
A new recruit (Alex Pettyfer) is taken under Magic Mike’s wing and indulges heavily into the lifestyle – ‘the lifestyle’ being the film’s central focus. Hedonism and indulgence and everything associating with vice. Magic Mike, a real human being, learns something: he learns that ends are not justified by means. Vice will not lead to virtue. The only happiness Mike can find is in a new life. And he finds that life. See? The story itself is nothing new, so that no matter how well-made Magic Mike may be, it will never achieve more than, let’s say, 80/100. Soderbergh knows his ess and, more importantly, knows talent and how to (forgive me) work it. There was little question that Magic Mike would be an entertaining, expertly photographed film with superb performances, clearly most of all from Channing Tatum who is captivating in his weakest moments and awing when he chooses to break out the big guns. Being a portrait of masculinity doesn’t hurt either.

Only two Soderbergh films left until the indefinite hiatus! No need to cross your fingers, they’ll both be quite good.

written by David Ashley