Just before the showing I attended of Magic Mike, a young lady seated in front of me, turned to her friend said. “Wow. There’s only women here—no men.” Her companion wisely replied, “Why would guys come to this movie?” I should’ve taken that comment to heart and fled the theatre but a reviewer reviews films, right?
I am left in the position of a “guy” reviewing a chick flick and that’s not always been so bad. I fondly remember to varying degrees The Devil Wears Prada, Steel Magnolias, to name only several that spring to mind.
- Magic Mike is one of the movies playing this week at .
Well, ladies and gents, I don’t know what to make of Steven Soderbergh’s current encampment in the world of male go-go strippers, strutting their stuff in their thongs for throngs of adoring females. For all the skill of the actors and their obvious commitment to their roles (and their bodies), I was left unmoved, un-amused and barely able to sit through the credits before tearing away into the bright Saturday sunshine. Trust me, I went with an open heart and mind: I’m a tolerant guy open to everything cinematic, and one might say the director has a more than reasonable pedigree to foster high expectations that what is coming will be at least passable entertainment. Again, for this “guy”—close, but no cigar.
The real conundrum is why this film at this time? It’s 2012, the entire world is rife with Wi-Fi, Internet porn sites, live webcam action 24/7 to suit every imaginable proclivity and perversity. Okay, clearly Soderbergh has other fish to fry in presenting this mildly cautionary tale of misguided libidos in an era of pandemic severe economic down-turn. We get the point.
The director was intrigued when he heard that star Channing Tatum briefly worked as a stripper and the project got the green-light. Somehow, it all seems dated and ho-hum, been there, seen that. Anyone remember Showgirls, that all-time camp howler from way back in 1995? To its credit, that bomb-for-all time did explore (exploit!) some new territory, albeit in a hopelessly hackneyed, over-the-top manner.
In Magic Mike, Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas, achieves the dubious distinction of channeling Gina Gershon’s role as den-mother to her flock, the switch being male hunks rather than Las Vegas, tall-stemmed, bosomy beauties. At 42, McConaughey still has a killer body and appears to relish every bump and grind as he emcee’s the nightly onslaught of very horny women who pack Tampa’s Club Xquisite and keeps his flock of studs in line with a display of pep-talks, macho hugs, back-slaps and face-to-face pressings that would make any NFL coach proud.
Tatum takes the title character of Mike, part-time tile roofer and wannabe custom furniture designer. It is on a job site that he meets and later recruits the Adam of Alex Pettyfer. Their budding friendship provides the major dramatic thrust of the story as Adam is pressed into “service” in true Hollywood fashion; when the male review is short a dancer one night.
Pettyfer is charming and convincing as he moves from the timidity of a newcomer to the peacock-strutting star of the runway. There’s the requisite romantic comings and goings to fuel the plot when the boys are not flexing their buff bodies.
Women—go if you must. Men—you’ve been warned.
Jeff Klayman is an award-winning playwright whose works have been produced in New York, Los Angeles and London. He also wrote the screenplay for the independent film Adios, Ernesto, directed by Mervyn Willis.