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Written by: Sam Fragoso on July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012 | 17 comments | Featured

Magic Mike is about male stripping similarly to how Boogie Nights is about the porn industry. Both are stylized, drama-centered pieces of filmmaking that take two seemingly lucrative and subversive professions, and twist them on their heads.

Paul Thomas Anderson delved into the realities of making porn darker and deeper than we’d even seen – Steven Soderbergh has roughly the same objective for Magic Mike.

The aforementioned title character (played by Channing Tatum) is a veteran in the business of male stripping, operating under only the manager, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). While Mike is moonlighting as a construction worker he meets an ostensibly incoercible 19 year-old named Adam (Alex Pettyfer).

Adam, who sports a piss attitude, Abercrombie-like model looks, and plethora of sorrow after loosing his college football scholarship when he punched the coach on the first day of practice, takes a liking to the materials and perks that come with being a male stripper (plenty of women, easy cash, and a whole lot of confidence). Fit for the job Dallas hires him on the spot.

Magic Mike naturally contains an affable amount of dance numbers that will have every teenage girl in the audience squealing and aroused. Unfortunately for them, Soderbergh slowly drifts away from the montages of male strippers accentuating their genitals with tight clothing and workouts where each member of the group (one of whom is named Big Dick Richie) contains a 78-pack of abs, and instead colors the dark side of the playing field.

Male stripping isn’t all money, sex, and drugs – they’re ramifications for Mike and Adam. In particular Mike who (beyond dancing for women) has ambitions to become an entrepreneur that runs a custom furniture business. His dreams are ultimately questions by Adam’s responsible sister (Brooke played by the lovely Cody Horn) and hindered by the banks that can’t (due to his credit) offer him competitive loans.

And so the show goes on. Dallas has grand plans to move his actively progressing business from the wondrously photographed Tampa to Miami in a few months. As the days pass our characters evolve. The once upon a time stubborn and quiet Adam has now become a speed obsessed addict, disrespecting his sister Brooke – who may or may not have feelings for Mike. Speaking of Mike, Tatum effortlessly advances his character’s hopes and desires.

Magic Mike was once content with spending his nights having a good time. But he’s thirty now, and much like anyone at that age, he’s beginning to put his life in perspective.

While much of the credit must go the ingenious Southern born filmmaker, Tatum is playing a character he knows all too well (before being discovered as an actor, he was a male stripper). Autobiographical as it may be, Magic Mike steers clear of conventions.

Soderbergh conforms to only his vision for Mike and Adam – a character arch and inevitable future valuable enough that I won’t reveal it here. The film never dives into the depths of tragedy and heartbreak that Boogie Nights accomplished in 1997: few films do.

Nevertheless if Steven Soderbergh is truthful when proclaiming his retirement after the release of The Bitter Pill in 2013, Magic Mike is quite the accomplishment of a male-stripper character study executed with verve and passion, relishing in recklessness and uncertainty, and ultimately concluding with sadness and hope.

Rating: ★★★☆

Magic Mike

Magic Mike (2012)

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, Olivia Munn

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Reid Carolin

Runtime: 110 minutes

Genre: drama, comedy

Trailer Magic Mike

Comments

There are 17 comments for this post.

  1. Alex Withrow on July 27, 2012 9:23 am

    Flawless review, one I could not agree more with. Your immediate comparison to Boogie Nights is a perfect one; Magic Mike isn’t ABOUT male strippers, even though it’s about male strippers. There’s a lot more going on here.

    PS, props for referring to Horn as lovely. Don’t know if you were talking about the actress, the character, the performance, or all three, but I thought she tried something different, and nailed it.

  2. Sam Fragoso on July 27, 2012 9:45 am

    I was going to write about the scene when Mike goes in for a loan, and how it emulates the scene when Cheadle is rejected by bank. Couldn’t organically tie it in.

    Glad you enjoyed the review Alex.

  3. Dan O. on July 27, 2012 2:31 pm

    Good review Sam. Tatum, Pettyfer, and McConaughey played their characters perfectly and along with Soderbergh’s direction, make this flick seem so much more legit and work not only as “male stripper movie”, but as a fun and entertaining look into a strange world. Tatum is probably having the best year of his life right now.

  4. Sam Fragoso on July 27, 2012 9:48 pm

    Haha, yeah Tatum is doing quite well for himself.

    21 Jump Street in particular was a shining moment this year — along with Haywire and now this.

  5. Duke & The Movies :: Name That Movie on July 28, 2012 12:04 pm

    [...] Here are my two new reviews of Being Flynn and Magic Mike. [...]

  6. Dingo on July 28, 2012 6:12 pm

    Solid review and I agree with you, that it’s about male strippers but not about male strippers. When I saw it boogie nights did come to mind many times. I am going to call you out on something though, you commented that teenager girls will be disappointed but it not having so much dancing. Honestly I think you should have directed that at middle aged women. When I saw it the theater was full of middle aged women. Other wise well, written young man.

  7. Sam Fragoso on July 28, 2012 7:34 pm

    How about just women in general. Most enjoy the near-naked dancing of any a built man.

  8. sati on July 28, 2012 7:43 pm

    I’ll definetly see this one evne only for McConaughey’s work which I hear is great. Plus I enjoyed all Soderbergh’s films I’ve seen. Great review!

  9. Sam Fragoso on July 28, 2012 7:46 pm

    Thank you for the kind words Sati. McConaughey does great work here, alongside Tatum.

    But have you seen the trailer for Killer Joe? McConaughey looks deadly in that film (supposedly delivers a riveting performance too).

  10. Danny on July 28, 2012 10:28 pm

    Considering how many people I know feel entitled to female nudity in movies, I’m pretty okay with ladies getting to have some fun with male nudity for once.

    Good review, man.

  11. Sam Fragoso on July 28, 2012 10:31 pm

    I hope you don’t feel that I’m overtly partisan on this. Granted, I prefer females undressing to men — but the preconception many women had going into this film was that it’s about male stripping (and take what that as you will).

    Don’t think for a second that the amount of entitlement men carry in going into films doesn’t disgust me, it does.

  12. Dirtywithclass on July 31, 2012 5:33 pm

    I’ve heard surprisingly good reviews for this one, so i will probably end up catching it on dvd. And I’ve found European movies are far less shy about male nudity.

  13. Sam Fragoso on July 31, 2012 7:51 pm

    Definitely do Julian. It’s worth checking out.

  14. Duke & The Movies :: July: The Great Ones on August 1, 2012 8:05 am

    [...] Magic Mike ~ For a film that revolves around male stripping, it’s an effective stylized drama. [...]

  15. Dan on August 5, 2012 4:28 am

    I haven’t seen this yet…will probably wait for the DVD/blu-ray but a funny moment occurred recently while in a restaurant. The restaurant in question happens to be next door to a theatre. I was having dinner there a couple of weeks ago and at about 7.30pm there was a mass exodus of mainly female diners. The waitress, after asking for our bill, happened to mention Magic Mike was just about to start. I think I know where all the ladies went! :)

  16. Sam Fragoso on August 6, 2012 2:22 am

    Haha, very funny. I’m sure you’re assumption is correct. I suspect many of them were a tad disappointed.

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