Before it was released, I joked that “Magic Mike” should have been called “Best Idea for a Movie, Ever” or “Channing Tatum is a Stripper: You’re Welcome, America”. My friends and I went to a midnight showing on opening day, eager for abs, pecs and titillation. We got that. We also got something unexpected: a thoughtful, often gritty look at a world that kicks off when the sun goes down.
In many ways, Steven Soderbergh’s latest – partially inspired by Channing Tatum’s past experiences as an exotic dancer – is reminiscent of one of my favorite films, 1977’s “Saturday Night Fever”. Though the latter has often been parodied for its homage to an era and dance style gone by, its underlying story goes far beyond nostalgia. “Fever”‘s hero Tony Manero lives for disco, but he also abuses drugs, deals with a dysfunctional family and has no real ambition. In turn, “Magic Mike”‘s titular character (Tatum) is perfectly content with taking his clothes off and getting easy money and easy sex in return. Or is he?
Many of my friends were disappointed or bored by “Magic Mike”, and I can understand that: when you go in expecting a lighthearted cabaret of male nudity and see a disturbing scene involving vomit and a pig, there’s bound to be disillusionment. And the film has its hiccups. As Mike’s young punk protegee, Alex Pettyfer often appears stiff and uncomfortable (this previous statement could be applied to Pettyfer in virtually everything he’s done). Also, I would have liked to learn more about the other strippers, particularly married Ken (Matt Bomer) and Richie (Joe Manganiello), who’s known for his large, uh, asset. But overall, Soderbergh manages to provoke one’s mind as well as their fantasies. And just like pleasing a crowd yearning for something more – whether “more” entails a muscled man in a G-string or a pipe dream long relegated to the sidelines – that’s not an easy feat.
DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack includes extended dance sequences and digital download.
Movie: 4.5 Yaps
Extras: 4 Yaps
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