Magic Mike. Featuring a bunch of hot Hollywood actors as male strippers in a Tampa, Florida, all-male revue. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Went on to gross over a 100 million at the US box office alone. On a reported budget of just seven million dollars. What’s not to like right?
Let’s begins with the fact that the movie is directed by Steven Soderbergh. The man gives the impression of not liking his characters very much. Under his stewardship–the man shoots and edits his own work–The Girlfriend Experience was cool, stylized, and not very sexy. So also Haywire. Both movies were enjoyable, and yet, there is something just…surface-level about them. Same goes for Magic Mike.
Channing Tatum essays the role of the title character who works several jobs (so that he can raise enough money to do the thing he really wants to do: make custom furniture). Mr. Tatum is the main reason to rent this movie. His performance, as well as his dancing, anchors the film.
The other players in the revue are on screen for just long enough for you to go, “Isn’t that that guy from that TV show?” And the answer is often, “Yup.” True Blood (Joe Manganiello), White Collar (Matt Bomer), and CSI: Miami (Adam Rodriguez).
All the dancing, and the stripping (such as it is) serves mainly as interstitial material between the larger story of how Mike meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer) a nineteen-year-old screw-up, introduces him to Dallas (Matthew McConaughey)–the man who runs the club Mike dances at, and how his mentorship of Adam is complicated by the attraction Mike feels for Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn). Okay, we could work with that; right?
Ms. Horn, the actress playing the role of Brooke is not very likable. She wears a sullen expression for a large part of her screen time so it is difficult to see why this cool guy would be interested in an uptight girl like her. If it’s just the challenge of loosening her up that’s hardly setting the stage for a meaningful relationship, is it?
And then there is Adam–the kid Mike takes responsibility for. He remains a screw-up for the duration of the movie. This is an interesting character because it seems possible to see what the easy money and easier women lifestyle could do to this guy when he is older and has not concerned himself with seeking more gainful employment. But this is only something one can take away from the movie if one chooses to think about it for a while. There’s nothing explicit in the filmmaking to hint that Adam will turn out one way or the other.
So that leaves us with Mike. And his un-fun crush. Which means I didn’t get what the big deal was about this movie. It also didn’t help that all the daylight portions of the film were rendered in a jaundiced shade that just hurts the eyes.
Okay then, on to the next one.