Saturday, July 14, 2012

Movie Review: “Magic Mike” by Nathan Hinds

Release: June 29th, 2012
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Reid Carolin
Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey
Rated: R
Running Time: 110 min

Let me first start off by saying this is something I never pictured myself doing: writing a review about a movie based on male strippers, starring one of my least favorite actors, Channing Tatum. I knew full well going into this movie, that I was not the targeted audience, and thus had to keep an open mind. My hope was that there was a strong enough story, and some good performances - I’m talking acting not dancing (although I’ll touch on that as well) - that would be enough for me to get some enjoyment out of the film.

The film takes us into the world of male strippers, shown through the eyes of Mike, aka Magic Mike (Tatum), and Adam, aka The Kid (Pettyfer). Adam is at a point in his life where he doesn’t have anything going for him, and no idea about what he wants for the future. He meets Mike when he takes a daily construction job, despite having no experience in the field, and quickly learns that construction isn’t the answer. When he sees Mike at a bar latter on, circumstances lead to Adam getting introduced to Mike’s real job as a stripper at a hot local Tampa bar. While Adam doesn’t nail his first routine, he shows enough promise to Mike and the club's owner, Dallas (McConaughey), that they welcome him into the crew. From here on out, it's a life of partying, sex, and drugs, all while getting to keep the virtuously responsibility-free lifestyle that Adam cherishes so much. The problem is that Adam can’t see the toll that it is actually taking on him.

The whole cautionary tale that the movie tells was definitely the strength of the film for me, and also a nice break from all the dancing, which we have established was not my cup of tea. We see Adam making more money than he’s ever made in his life, doing whatever he wants, and it all seems great to him. The problem is that it’s not that simple. He fails to recognize what he's sacrificing with the constant partying and drugs, all of which have been introduced to him through other dancers at the club. The only people that do see this are his sister and Mike, who by the way is trying to find a way to get them both out of the stripping business.

There is a pretty powerful scene in the film where Alex has lost a large stash of drugs that him and the DJ of the club had intended to sell, and Mike has just paid $10,000 dollars, almost all of his savings, to bail him out. Adam is extremely grateful for the act, and thanks Mike for introducing him to all of the aspects of his lifestyle. You can see on Mike’s face that he is aware he hasn’t really done Adam any favors, if anything he feels guilty for throwing him into this world and not looking out for him more. It really is a great scene.

This all leads me into Channing Tatum’s performance, and once again I have to give the guy props. That’s two movies in a row now; what is this world coming to? It was another great role for him, as it played to every one of his strengths. There is no doubt the guy can dance and it gave him plenty of room to spread his wings in that category, much to the delight of the sold out theater that had only three guys to about 200 women. In terms of dramatic acting, you can see a lot of improvement from almost all of his other work. You can really tell how torn he is throughout the movie, from trying to get out of the stripper business, to witnessing the downward spiral Adam is obliviously going through.

Now, as nice as the whole story is, lets not kid ourselves into thinking that’s why women are flocking in droves to see this movie. They're here to see dudes get naked. And if that is the reason why you’re going, you’re not going to be disappointed. The filmmakers knew as much, and they deliver on that front, maybe even more than what some of the ladies in the audience thought they would get. The dancing is more impressive athletically than it is sexual, but it’s that way to show that this is a job first and foremost to these guys. Okay, I don’t think we need to break that aspect of the film down anymore, so let's move on.

Look, the bottom line is, this movie gives you exactly what it says its going to give. If you’re part of the intended audience, you’re gonna love it. If you’re not part of that target audience, like myself, it at least has enough going on away from the dancing that it isn’t a complete waste of time if you have to watch it with your girlfriend or someone. Although, if you’re not part of the target audience and you want to watch a movie about someone who gets thrown into a partying lifestyle and goes overboard, there are much better choices you could make. For me, once was plenty.