Alright ladies (and gay men)...grab your singles and head to the movies because the Channing Tatum stripper movie is finally here. What's it about? Not important. Is it any good? Who cares?! Does Channing Tatum take his clothes off? Yes. Most likely that's all you care about, but if you want to keep reading to find out the answer to those other two questions, here's the review for you.
A few years ago Channing Tatum and director Steven Soderbergh met at a party and started talking. Somehow, Tatum's actual past where he dabbled in stripping came up in conversation and Soderbergh really wanted to turn that premise into a movie. He didn't know what the plot would be or who would be in it with Tatum but goddamnit they were gonna make this film. For any other project, not knowing stuff like that before launching a movie would be a telltale sign of box office poison, but not Magic Mike.
The bottomline for a film like this is that all those things like a good script, a compelling plot and great actors are just details. You'll get thousands of ladies to show up just because they want to see Tatum take his clothes off and dance. The good news is that Soderbergh was in charge and he won't let this turn into a total mess. He's a very skilled director and he's not afraid to take risks. His win column has Ocean's 11, The Informant!, Traffic, Erin Brockovich but his loss column is equally full of duds like Solaris, Conatgion, Che, The Girlfriend Expierence. But even when he falls on his face, I still give him credit for the risks that he takes on almost every film he does.
Some could say that Magic Mike is just as good as Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar-winning Boogie Nights. I don't know about that and I think the only reason for that comparison is the nature of the film. I don't think it's as good as Boogie Nights but it's way better than Showgirls, which is just as equal-of-a-comparison. All three films have the exact same plot - young innocent gets pulled into the world of sex and eventually the world of fast money and fame leads to drugs, crime and drama. That story is one of the most cliche plots in the book but Magic Mike starts it off better than most.
I know Tatum was the one that inspired the story (although none of it is true) but he is the key reason the film is good at all. He's really developing into a performer that is a delight to watch on screen. He won me over with his comedy chops in 21 Jump Street and he continues to impress me in that area. He has developed a very natureal and likable improv-style charm to his delivery. It also helps that the man can dance his ass off...and I'll even admit that it's an impressive ass at that. (You see it in the first :30 of the film.)
The supporting cast is really impressive too. The young, innocent that's corrupted by Magic Mike is played by Alex Pettyfer (Beastly, In Time) and the seductive villain is Matthew McConaughey, who relishes every second of his wild and crazed character, Dallas. It's really fun to watch the cast act out and, dare I say, dance too. The scenes of their performances succeed in its goal of turning the theater into a strip club and ladies will get up, scream and laugh with their friends.
The problem is that it's not a very inspired story. What starts off as a funny film about living fast and elaborately without a care for substance or a future turns into a dark, serious drama about surviving sinful temptations for the sake of your pride. The problem with that is...who cares?! The ladies that are there only want to see gorgeous men take their clothes off, which disapeers by the end of the film. The poor sons-of-bitches like me that go because they have to, get suckered in by the fun and comedy in the first half only to get bored and confused by the tone at the end. Not to mention a romance that's shoehorned in and pays off in one of the most unbelievable conclusions I've ever seen.
But here's the bottomline: it served its purpose. The average cost of going to a male strip show is about $25 for a ticket, $30 for drinks and $30 for singles to shove in their g-string. Will going to see Magic Mike live up to actually going to a real strip show? No, but considering that you're saving $75 on an evening, it can still develop into a fun night with the ladies.
Magic Mike (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B-