Among the various jobs he works in order to save money to start up a custom-made furniture business, Mike (Tatum) earns most of his income as a successful male stripper for local club owner Dallas (McConaughey). Living a seemingly-ideal lifestyle in Florida, Mike meets prospect-less 19-year-old Adam (Pettyfer) and takes him on as a protégé of sorts, despite the objections of his disapproving sister Brooke (Horn). But just as Adam starts to really enjoy the lifestyle, Mike starts to question his own future…
While more of an indie movie than many viewers will be expecting after a mainstream-flavoured, hen-party-aimed advertising campaign, Magic Mike will still provide enjoyable, accessible viewing. Known to jump between multiplex and arthouse fare, prolific filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (yup, him again) approaches his second feature this year with his independent hat on, meaning that all the oily man-pecs, penis-swelling pump-ups and post-stage heart-to-hearts are handled with improvisational dialogue and his usual filtered screen washes. But while there is something frustratingly unsatisfying that frequently pulls the whole thing back from 5-star quality, the overall package is – like the tanned torsos on display – buff, authentic and consistently engaging.
In truth, you also have the nagging feeling that once again Soderbergh spent more time figuring out camera angles than fine-tuning character arcs or story logistics (what happened to Mike’s construction work?), but it’s gorgeous, entertaining stuff regardless. Despite the subject matter, Magic Mike is less Full Monty than it is Boogie Nights by way of a good-sheened Saturday Night Fever, given that we’re seeing a man caught between his talent for late-night club performing and a ‘normal’ life. Still, the movie shines thanks to two terrific central performances, with men-of-the-moment Channing Tatum (who previously worked as a jobbing stripper) and Matthew McConaughey both providing further proof that they’re much better than all the rom-coms & crappy actioners which wasted them for so long. Alex Pettyfer and Cody Horn are less impressive by comparison (the former frustrates as a character, while the latter isn’t charming enough), but Tatum is able to shoulder the burden on his body-popping neck-traps.
While more of an indie movie than many viewers will be expecting after a mainstream-flavoured, hen-party-aimed advertising campaign, Magic Mike will still provide enjoyable, accessible viewing.