Sunday, July 1, 2012

Magic Mike review; a fun and entertaining strip fest

Steven Soderbergh is basically Hollywood royality at this point in his career. The man can do no wrong in the eyes of many. And even if he is perceived to have "done wrong", people throw him a muligan and call it a valiant effort (Haywire). This time around he's telling a much lighter story, one that mirrors the life of its star. Magic Mike is of course being coined "The Male Stripper Movie", that's accurate to a certain extent. It is very loosely based on Channing Tatum's life in Tampa, Florida as a male exotic dancer. Let's go.

What I liked about the film:
The Stars of the Show
Channing Tatum is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. In the past year, I think he's proven he's a versatile actor; starring in movies with a broad range of subject matter and genres. From The Vow to 21 Jump Street and now Magic Mike. His character is the lead of a male stripper group; in some situations is very carasmatic and totally confident, and in others he has to be vulnerable and weak. I think Tatum is going to have quite the career, watch.

 The other guys in the stripper group are really just supporting actors there to show off their bodies. The only supporting actor that gets anything to sink his teeth into is Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four). He plays a 19 year old kid that is broke and living with his sister, played by Cody Horn (Flipped). Pettyfer idiolized Tatum's character once he discovers his job and lifestyle. After a few funny events, Pettyfer is now dancing with the group. He did a nice job of showing how fast a young man could fall into an unhealthy lifestyle.

Last but not least is Matthew McConaughey, who, is, awesome! He has the most animated and perhaps funniest character in the film. McConaughey owns the strip club where the men dance. On the surface he appears to be Tatums ally, but once Pettyfer catches his attention, we realize he may not be as loyal as he seems. McConaughey needs better roles like this one if he ever wants to be regarded as a good actor, and not just some guy that keeps his shirt off.

The Comedy/Writing
The movie is extremely funny. Most of that comes from the men's dialogue. There are some obvious scenes where the actors were adlibing, and it added to the realism of the film. You start to believe the actors were indeed friends with their onscreen counterparts, there was some great writing by Reid Carolin. Nicely done. 

The Story/Soderbergh
It's really a simple story. The movie is mostly about Pettyfer's coming of age, while Tatum is trying to better himself and leave the stripping behind him. Minus a few scenes where Pettyfer's character gets himself into some serious trouble, the movie was simple and light. Soderbergh does a wonderful job telling the story. He keeps it grounded in reality. The movie has a unique look too; at one point, my wife asked me if the colors were off, and they were. It gave Tampa a distinct look that separated it from the flash of Hollywood or the grit of New York. Amazing work.

What I didn't like about the film:
Cody Horn
Not to pick on the only female character in the film, but Horn was awful. She breaths absolutley no life into her character. Her chemistry as a overprotective sister to Pettyfer fell flat for me. She and Tatum had no chemistry either. Soderbergh usually casts the best of the best, but his casting of female leads in his last two films have been off. First MMA fighter Gina Carano in Haywire, and now Horn in this film. Considering she doesn't have much screen time, I'll overlook this aspect of the film.

The Verdict:
Not Perfect, but Fun
I had a hell of a good time watching Magic Mike. Watching the actors strut their stuff to a room full of hot and bothered women was hilarious. The actors were in top form and explored multiple sides to their characters. It was fun and light, and never took itself too serious; all the while made stripping appear to be a respectable and legitamite business. Kudos to Soderbergh and Tatum. I am a big big fan of both their work and will continue to support them as their resumes grow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know what it was about this movie, but I just had a freakin' ball with it. I laughed, hooted, hollered, and loved watching what Soderbergh could do with a "male stripper movie". Definitely wasn't a film that had no chance of working but pulled it off very well. Good review Tony.