Magic Mike (2012)

Soderbergh’s take on the strip show dazzles with sights and sounds, but his film lacks dramatic substance.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Review #786

Dir. Steven Soderbergh
2012 | USA | Comedy/Drama | 111 mins | 2.39:1 | English

M18 (passed clean) for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use

Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn
Plot: A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money.
Awards: Nom. for Variety Piazza Grande Award (Locarno)
Distributor: Warner Bros

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Slightly Mature – Striptease
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: In Theatres
First Published: 10 Aug 2012
Spoilers: No

In P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia (1999), Tom Cruise’s character said, “I’m quietly judging you,” well, I had that same feeling of being quietly judged when I bought a ticket to see Magic Mike.  But of course, I wasn’t there to see Channing Tatum or Matthew McConaughey strip to their thongs; I was simply there to catch Steven Soderbergh’s new film.

Magic Mike is a dazzling film, captivating in its sights and sounds, engaging in its dance choreography, but as with recent Soderbergh pictures like Haywire (2011) and Contagion (2011), it lacks the kind of dramatic substance that have made films like Erin Brockovich (2000) and Traffic (2000) so good.

Magic Mike features an excellent physical performance by Tatum, but McConaughey steals the show with his deep, seductive voice.  McConaughey’s character heads a male stripping club, recruiting young men like Tatum’s title character.  The film is vulgar and features loads of sexually suggestive movements, but there is never explicit nudity.

“Will you welcome to the stage, the one, the only… Magic Mike!”

Soderbergh is more interested in the performers than the sleazy act itself.  He tries to develop his characters in between all the dances, but it somehow never works, especially the relationship between Mike and Adam (Alex Pettyfer).

Magic Mike impresses in its first half, but slowly fades into an above-average drama with pretty shots and thumping dance tracks. Soderbergh’s effort in making an accessible and youthful picture about something as fascinating as male strippers eventually comes across as… plain.  

But at least you will come away without treating male stripping with disdain, but instead see it as a provocative modern art form.

Grade: C+



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