How pregnant did ya get that girl’s mouth?
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Cody Horn, Riley Keough
Running Time: 110 mins
Magic Mike was a deliciously deceptive cocktail of sexy male strippers and awkward ‘artsy’ independent cinema verité style life drama. In my strong opinion, the film was marketed as a rollicking sexual thrill ride primarily targeted at women of all ages. The stripping is, in reality, only a thin superficial layer to the film. It is in fact about the late coming-of-age of Tatum’s character, Mike. Mike is a 30-something Tampa stripper, contractor, roofer and all around entrepreneur with bigger dreams. It is clear that the stripping is only a means to an end for him. But he seems to have found himself on a plateau that perpetuates this redundant stagnant stage in life.
Tatum was likeable, as he often is. He was a pleasure to watch, no pun intended. However, one could argue that the real scene stealer may have been Alex Pettyfer. In my opinion, Pettyfer’s acting chops have significantly improved since I last watched him in 2011’s (arguably unpleasant) Beastly. His American accent is significantly improved and spot on. He portrayed his somewhat lost and troubled character efficiently enough.
While the film started off strong (with the potential for a powerful ending that was suggested with the implication of a progressive timeline), it’s appeal diminished for me less than halfway in. I found myself either rolling my eyes out of boredom or getting anxious as a result of thinking about errands I had to run. The pace dips but picks back up when Mike begins to find it within himself to move forward and change his lifestyle with a little help from Cody Horn’s often admonishing character.
The ending left me feeling like I hadn’t seen enough of these characters’ lives. I suspect the ending was left so open to let you, the viewer, finish the story yourself. However, that effect was not successfully achieved. It felt abrupt and terse. Perhaps some may find this works for them, but I found it unappealing. I would have preferred a more conclusive ending.
All in all, I enjoyed the film because of it’s use of realism typical of cinema verité (for example, even the use of sound was kept primarily diegetic, which was something I appreciated) and because Channing Tatum did a strong job carrying the plot and was effortless in his portrayal of Mike. I’m actually contemplating discussing Cody Horn, but I think I will refrain until I am more familiar with her body of work. I will say, however, that I am not quite sure how I feel about her.
The Long and Short: Overall, it is a good film to see, but you wouldn’t be missing anything substantial if you waited to rent it.
My Recommendation: I recommend you watch this with like-minded friends who will enjoy stripping, accompanied by a story about the lesser known lifestyles of male strippers.
Favourite Scene: Pretty much every time Channing Tatum danced on stage.