Thursday, July 19, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: Magic Mike


The Other Half and I saw "The Citizen Kane of Stripper Movies" July 4th weekend when I was visiting Los Angeles. Magic Mike stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Matthew McConaughey and Adam Rodriguez, some of the most attractive male stars on television.

There have been recent press reports about the surprising appeal of Magic Mike to gay male audiences. This is somewhat bizarre, because why wouldn't a movie about male strippers, which by definition is about the objectification of the male body, be attractive to men who find the male body attractive?


It is true that there are lots of images and scenes of quite scantily clad guys in the movie, with the primary focus being on Channing Tatum. Tatum is very easy on the eyes, and he is also a very talented dancer, which are some of the film's best assets (literally). Tatum is basically in every scene, usually with Pettyfer, who is also pretty easy on the eyes in a scruffy young white dude way.


The movie currently has a 78% rating on rottentomatoes.com (though, tellingly, it has a 68% from audiences) and is doing well-enough at the box office to not tarnish Tatum's rising profile as Hollywood's next golden boy. He puts on a good, believable performance and raises it from something which really could have become pue schlock.


However, as a film, especially one directed by an Oscar-winning director, Magic Mike has numerous flaws, primarily script related. The film was written by Reid Carolin and features stupefying dialogue and a strikingly lackadaisical plot. In the first 5 minutes (the "meet-cute" scene between Tatum and Pettyfer on a construction site I turned to The Other Half and said, "is this film improvised or is there a screenplay?" The scene plays like the director said: "Ok, act as if you are meeting for the first time and Alex, you play an aimless stoner guy trying to find himself and Channing you play a guy who is a construction worker by day and stripper by night, juggling multiple responsibilities to get ahead in life. Action!" It's a specific choice, made by the writer and director (I think!) in order to communicate a sense of verisimilitude to these characters. The plot is (very) loosely based on the ingenue-star conflict of All About Eve, with Pettyfer ("The Kid") being the ingenue new to the world of taking your clothes off for money and Tatum ("Magic Mike") being the established star and chief draw at the night club run by McConaughey.


Sadly, Bomer, Rodriguez and Mangianello are mostly (very pretty) window dressing and have a mere handful of lines between them. They do a good job in the ensemble stripper scenes of increasing the eye candy portions to nearly overwhelming levels, and acquit themselves well in their brief solos also. 


The film chooses to make all of the characters heterosexual, and places the context of the stripping as hot straight guys undressing for the entertainment (titillation?) of giggly straight women. The inherent exploitative nature of what is essentially the commodification of youth and beauty can not be avoided, although one interesting spin is that it is male youth and male beauty being packaged and sold (by both the film and the characters in the film). It is somewhat odd (and one could argue, fueled by either homophobia or heterosexism) that there is absolutely no gay content in the movie whatsoever. That being said maybe that's a good thing, because many of the characters do disturbing things, with the role of drugs in the night life culture Magic Mike is a part of becomes increasingly prominent, and problematic.


That being said, the film is probably worth seeing, as a mindless diversion and somewhat titillating fun, sort of like going to a strip club itself. But you won't feel good about the time and money spent on the experience afterwards!

Title: Magic Mike.
Director: Steven Soderbergh.
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use.
Release Date: June 29, 2012.
Viewing Date: July 7, 2012.

Writing: D.
Acting: B.
Visuals: A.
Impact: C.

Overall Grade: B-/C+ (2.5/4.0).

1 comment:

Takara O'Pharrow said...

I went to see this movie and made a "girls night out" of it. I personally had a great time. Get a little liquor in you before you go and if you are attracted to the male form you will think it is the best movie you have ever seen!

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