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Magic Mike
3/5
dir Steven Soderbergh
scr Reid Carolin
prd Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum, Nick Wechsler
with Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn, Riley Keough, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Wendi McLendon-Covey
release US 29.Jun.12, UK 11.Jul.12
12/US 1h50
Magic Mike
For the girls: Pettyfer, McConaughey and Tatum

munn keough soderbergh
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Magic Mike Despite the corny premise, Soderbergh works overtime to avoid cliches in this gleefully fleshy story of male strippers based loosely on Tatum's own experiences. As a result, it's smarter and more engaging than expected, although not as much fun as we hoped.

Mike (Tatum) works in construction by day and in a Tampa strip-club by night, saving to start a furniture-making business. When he meets 19-year-old Adam (Pettyfer) on the building site, he invites him to the club, and veteran manager Dallas (McConaughey) pushes him on-stage, much to the delight of the women-only audience. Soon Adam's part of the crew, although his sister Brooke (Horn) isn't too happy about this. And she's especially annoyed when Adam gets drawn into the druggy side of things through his addict girlfriend Zora (Keough) and DJ-dealer Tobias (Iglesias).

The film is refreshingly free of hackneyed plotting until the drugs show up. And this lame turn of events weakens the film, distracting us from more intriguing issues such as Mike's inability to get a banker to take him seriously as he decides whether to follow Dallas to greater success in Miami or do something else with his life entirely. Tatum plays this nicely, with a breezy sense of throwaway humour that livens up his flirty, offhanded scenes with Horn.

Meanwhile, Pettyfer is fine as the young guy caught up in the spotlight, where a taste of fame makes him feel immortal. The stripper colleagues (Bomer, Manganiello, Rodriguez and Nash) only get the odd moment to show off, while McConaughey gets the kind of riotous scene-stealing role that could get awards attention if the film clicks with audiences. All of these men are clearly having a lot of fun prancing around in G-strings while continually reminding us that they're not as gay as they look.

Soderbergh directs this in an almost documentary style that never plays up the camp premise. The film has an unstructured tone that makes the dialog feel improvised and the stage performances realistically awkward. This style allows for a continual stream of edgy comedy that occasionally erupts in all-out hilarity, usually in the amusing choreography or teasing sexuality. So the addition of a crime-underworld storyline is a real drag.

cert 15 themes, language, nudity, drugs 11.Jun.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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