film review: Magic Mike (2012)1 Comment
Who doesn’t like a film about male stripping?
Actually, has there ever been a big film about male stripping before? Professional stripping like, not a bunch of fellas havin’ a laugh like in The Full Monty. Maybe there has, I don’t know. I’m not really up on male stripping films… or female ones for that matter. Or stripping in general. Still I was up for this. I mean, who doesn’t like a film about male stripping?
Thing is, Magic Mike isn’t really about stripping. It’s about Magic Mike (Channing Tatum). The clue is in the title. There’s a lot of stripping in it but that’s not what it’s about. Those looking for the “Channing Tatum stripper movie” in the local cineplexes shouldn’t be disappointed. Well, not too disappointed. He doesn’t go the full monty, but seriously, how many people really want to see that anyway?
So if it isn’t a film about stripping, what is it? It’s a Steve Soderbergh film. A fact that I’d forgotten till a few days before release and was instantly worried about. Of his last two films, Contagion was nothing to write home about and I thoroughly disliked Haywire. Thoroughly. He wasn’t going to spoil the Channing Tatum Stripper Movie, was he??
Fortunately Magic Mike is a more accomplished, and importantly, finished piece of work compared to Contagion and Haywire. Bit of a strange thing to be saying about a film from a film-maker who’s directed 25 odd films and also serves as his own cinematographer and sometimes editor. I think it does have to be said though, those other two had a very rough and unhewn feel to them, which didn’t work for me. This is far more polished. He seems to have a much better idea of what he wants to say here. There’s still that naturalistic feel that we had in Haywire (not the major problem) and there’s the odd colour palette that you got in Contagion (and most of his other films) but they don’t feel like the point of the film.
At the core of it, Magic Mike is telling a genuine story. Channing Tatum’s story. He serves as both inspiration and producer on this film and perhaps his input is mainly that’s why Magic Mike succeeds where the other two failed. It also helps that he’s a charismatic lead. He’s not a perfect pretty boy actor, nor is he the aloof and mysterious type. He’s charming and funny and, for a film that does keep us slightly at bay all through it, he comes across as relatable. Even if you don’t know anything about stripping.
In case you’re wondering about anyone else in the film. Alex Pettyfer is fine, Cody Horn is not up to it, Olivia Munn doesn’t have much to do but she does it well, Matthew McConaughy is great. It appears we’re in a new era where Matthew McConaughy is great in things. Who’da thunk it. This is a little immaterial though because Magic Mike is Channing Tatum’s show and he carries it well.
The issue that might crop up is that audiences might be a little confused by the film. Certainly it’s being sold as a bit of a girls-night-out, shake-your-bits kind of film. It’s not that. It’s the story of how a 30-year old stripper finds himself tired of his lifestyle and wanting a change. I can’t say simpler than that. Of course, there’s plenty of stripping in it and I think people should (mostly) leave satisfied but… it just may not be what people expect.
I have to admit, I would have liked to see more stripping. Not entirely because I think we owe it to the men in the film, they obviously worked hard to get into shape for this and that should be appreciated; but because well…
… Truth is, I like a good dance movie. I’ve watched most of the recent ones and I’m not used to there being a plot in a dance movie. The stripping is pretty much street dance with people taking their clothes off and it was a little hard to accept a story with the promise of a new dance scene coming up. But that’s just me. Others might be more into the relationships / drama side of things. All of which was well handled and I did enjoy. I just would have liked… maybe… just one more strip scene…?
Just one. It’s not that much to ask is it?
Ah well, there’s always the DVD extras.
Bonus: Channing Tatum’s former career
Don’t worry, the stuff in Magic Mike is better than this.