Channing Tatum stars as Michael “Magic Mike” Lane, in a film based in part on his own life as a 19 year-old stripper in Tampa, Florida. Mike wants something more in life, but does he have the ability to do anything about it? Full review after the jump.
Mike is a veteran stripper and dancer working at a popular club managed by the eccentric Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). While Mike is clearly a talented dancer (ladies – Tatum has got the moves), he has ambitions beyond the walls of the club. What Mike really wants to do is design custom furniture; however getting enough money together to be able to secure a start-up loan is almost impossible, and Mike works multiple jobs in pursuit of his dream.
Mike meets 19 year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) on one of his construction jobs. Alex is a bit of a slacker who doesn’t seem to have any ambition; however Mike decides to give Adam a helping hand and recruits him to work at the club. While it starts off as assisting with props, Adam’s youth and willingness to give things a shot soon sees him make the move to dancer. While Mike mentors Adam, he struggles with his own situation – he seems to be sliding backwards and not going forward, and he slowly begins to realise that he is both lonely and in a bit of a rut. It takes the naïvety and stupid actions of the young and careless Adam for Mike to realise that he needs to make a drastic change [and fast], or he’ll soon find himself a 40 year-old stripper (much like Dallas), filled with regrets and “what ifs”.
Magic Mike is far more than the sexy blockbuster for the ladies that it is being marketed as. Sure the film is sexy, but rather than being a shallow comedy about a stripper, it’s actually a Soderbergh-shot and directed low-budget, character-driven film with a huge amount of heart. Despite it’s setting it never feels cheap or sleazy, and this is largely thanks to the fantastic performance of Tatum. Who could have guessed that he would be one of true stars of 2012? He sunk a chunk of his own money into this film, and it obviously means something to him on a personal level. Mike could have been a slimy, unrelatable guy, but instead he is an extremely sympathetic character who works his ass off (in more ways than one) in hope of a better life, and you can’t help but want him to succeed.
Talking about stars of 2012 – hello Mr Matthew McConaughey! His performance in this film is nothing short of fantastic. His character is very intense, both in a hilarious and energetic way, and in a darker more intimidating “don’t cross me way”. The majority of the laughs in the film come from him, and it’s obvious he had a great time with the character. The cast is solid all around with the exception of Cody Horn who plays Brooke, the love-interest of Mike, and sister of Adam. Her wooden and awkward performance contained absolutely no charisma, and there was no chemistry whatsoever between her and Tatum. The character itself was very contrived and not needed, but I can’t help thinking that a quality actress could have at least made me believe in the budding romance.
Finally, a fun and energetic pop/hip-hop soundtrack and some great cinematography courtesy of the distinctive style of Soderbergh add to the mix to make Magic Mike an entertaining and slick film.
Go for the dancing, but stay for the heart.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer(s): Reid Carolin
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey
Runtime: 110 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: July 26 2012; USA; June 29 2012