Magic Mike

Let me preface this by saying that I call Channing Tatum “The Body.” Not because of his actual body, but because my friend, who can never say anything bad about anyone, said he admired Tatum’s “body of work” back when he had only really been in Step Up and the first G.I. Joe.

Well now Tatum has a legit body of work and is in just about every movie this year. So I guess I’m a genuine fan of The Body too, because I liked The Vow, 21 Jump Street, and Magic Mike.

Magic Mike is partially based on Channing Tatum’s experience as a stripper in Tampa when he was 19. I’m not sure how much of the story is based on his real life, but from my vast research I can tell you the dancing portion is pretty darn accurate. This movie does a great job of running the guys through their paces in all the strip show scenarios and costumes you would expect – the fireman, the cowboy, the marine, the hot cop who shows up at a private party. We see the bachelorettes, the 21st birthday girls, the middle-aged woman who’s just a little too big to be getting flung around on stage. And it’s really fun to watch.

The first half of the movie is exactly what you would expect from the trailers. Off the stage, Magic Mike (Tatum) is just a regular guy, stripping until he can save up enough money to open a custom furniture business. He becomes a mentor to Alex Pettyfer’s character “The Kid,” and shows him the ropes of taking his clothes off for money. Of course, The Kid has a cute sister, and Mike predictably falls for her. It’s typical romantic fare for the ladies.

The second half of the movie is the male stripping world’s answer to Boogie Nights. I thought Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, The Good German, Contagion) seemed an odd choice to direct a stripsploitation movie. His influence really comes into play somewhere in the middle, as The Kid explores the darker side of the industry. And suddenly we’re not watching a Ladies’ Night movie anymore. I won’t give too much away, but guys, there are some naked boobs here.

Given the contrasting tones, I’m not sure who the target audience is for this movie. I think women will be drawn in by the trailers, have some margaritas, and giggle with their friends during the first half. Then once they start to sober up around the middle of the movie, they’re going to get depressed and come out feeling jilted. The few men who get dragged to this will come out saying, “Hey, that was all right.”

That said, I really enjoyed Magic Mike. I thought it was a bold choice to go in the unexpected direction it did. Ultimately, I’m not sure it was completely successful, but the ride was both fun and thought-provoking.

While Tatum gives a solid performance and busts some cool moves, Matthew McConaughey really steals the show. He plays Dallas, the 40-something club owner who dances around in his leather cowboy outfit. The opening scene is great – on stage, Dallas runs through all the body parts the ladies aren’t allowed to touch: “But I see a lot of lawbreakers in the room tonight.” McConaughey was born to play this role, and he appropriately hams it up. There’s a hilarious scene where he struts around in a Speedo and teaches the new guy how to grind. Imagine Xerxes teaching Leonidas how to grind. If you know what that means and you’re laughing right now, you’re gonna love Magic Mike.

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