Magic Mike (2012)

Channing Tatum and Matt Bomer in Magic Mike

Magic Mike is a weird movie. It’s essentially a musical, except instead of big Broadway numbers you have male strippers (Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer) cavorting on stage, routines with such meticulous choreography and high production values that they’re as fantastical as a town spontaneously breaking into song. Outside of these scenes, Steven Soderbergh slaps an anaemic yellow filter on the lens while portraying everyday partying and shit shooting.

It all feels aimless; supposedly based on Tatum’s own rise to Hollywood stardom after beginning his career as a stripper, the film never comes up with a reason for existing other than the stripteases that dominated its marketing (it’s remarkably balanced when it comes to nudity, with as many boobs as dongs). It’s all very earnest – Showgirls for ladies, this ain’t – but that earnestness never amounts to anything substantial.

That yellow filter seems like it’s supposed to represent how Tatum’s titular stripper finds meaning on the catwalk – you know, everything else is washed out and faded, that sort of thing – but that stands in contrast to a narrative that sees Mike becoming disillusioned with the industry as his young protégé (Pettyfer) makes some poor decisions. One of Soderbergh’s lesser films.

2 stars

7 thoughts on “Magic Mike (2012)

  1. I haven’t seen this, but have been thinking I should change that (given its part of McConaughnesaince). Your review doesn’t put me in any hurry.

    Good work, as always.

    • It’s not an awful film by any stretch (though not one I’d recommend), and McConaughey is good in it, but it’s in a pretty minor role and it’s not of the calibre of his latest stuff. It was more exceptional at the time, I imagine, because everyone was expecting mediocrity from him a couple years ago.

  2. Good review Dave. So many people got on my case for enjoying this movie, but so be it! I had a good time, even though I am straight, love the ladies, and am engaged.

    • The dance scenes are fun whatever your orientation – there’s a lot of athleticism and talent on display, and it’s always good watching talented people do their thing – but it all just feels like it amounts to nothing. A half hour or so in and I was definitely enjoying things, but it didn’t feel like it had any real purpose behind it.

    • But, see, I didn’t take it as a “fun” movie! There’s this vague sense of listlessness to so much of the film that I assumed was deliberate but then never amounts to anything. It seemed like it wanted to be serious but didn’t know what to be serious about, if that makes any sense.

      • I think it did have serious elements, which stopped it from being total froth and that it probably didn’t succeed entirely in what it was trying to achieve. I think for a lot of women it was an interesting turn of the tables to see men in a film being objectified, using their sexuality as a commodity and worrying about losing their looks and therefore earning potential. That’s a rare experience for us.

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