There are two things that I must admit upfront about Magic Mike. The first is that I decided to watch this Steven Soderbergh comedy-drama because, when I heard it was about strippers, I didn’t quite realise that it was about the male variety. The second is that, erm, I actually found Magic Mike to be a fairly entertaining film, which moves to a gradually darkening screenplay, is well acted, and gives viewers an insightful behind-the-scenes look at the business of being a male stripper.
What also work for the film, I imagine, are the chiseled hunks who, with their gleaming rock hard abs and toned biceps, should be enough for the female readers of this review to stop reading right here and run out to the DVD store.
The movie starts at the Xquisite Strip Club, where Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) works nights as their star stripper while doing odd jobs in the day. Mike has a solid friendship the club’s owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) who is quickly revealed to be ambitious and quite chaotic in the way he tries to achieve those ambitions. In fact, it doesn’t take long for the friction between the two friends to heat up.
Enter Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a teenaged newcomer who forges a friendship with Mike and at some point learns of his stripper job. He ends up visiting Xquisite with Mike, where one of the male strippers Tarzan (Kevin Nash) is unable to perform. Dallas and Mike convince Adam to fill in who, unsure of how to perform, drives the female patrons wild with his innocence and becomes an instant hit. At this point the film takes a darker route, as it explores the seedier aspects of the sex business. Adam becomes addicted to drugs as well as private encounters with female patrons, while Mike tries to find his way out.
Although the film has most of the right moves, its story is a little thin and its finish disappointingly clichéd. The climax fails to reach the level of great behind-the-scenes films like Boogie Nights or The Wrestler. But while Magic Mike doesn’t quite reach the top of the pole it is certainly worth taking a look at.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, September 9th, 2012.
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