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USA 2012
Directed by
Steven Soderbergh
110 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Magic Mike

Synopsis: Mike (Channing Tatum) is a 30-year old would-be entrepreneur who makes most of his money as a male stripper. He befriends Adam (Alex Pettyfer) a 19-year old who lives with his older sister, Brooke (Cody Horn) and introduces him to stripping, easy money and good times. Which prove to be a bit too much for the opportunistic teenager.

Largely because the director is Steven Soderbergh, about 30 minutes into Magic Mike I asked myself where is this movie going? All I had seen by that stage was a lot of buffed-up guys ripping their kit off for squealing women and a burgeoning unlikely (that is, in Hollywood terms, “highly likely”) romance between Channing Tatum’s stripper/entrepreneur, Mike, and Cody Horn’s sweet girl-next-door, Brooke. An hour later that was still pretty much all that I’d seen. And by the one hour fifty minute mark I had to face the fact that that was all I was ever going to see.

Soderbergh is well-known for financing his more challenging projects with paycheck movies like the Oceans films. I can’t see Magic Mike as a big earner but if Soderbergh didn’t do it for the money I don’t know why he did. Yes, technically the film has panache, the rapid cut interplay between the cinematographer/director's trademark slick visuals and the thumping dance tracks give a reasonable impression of entertainment but, gay clientele aside, there’s a limit to how many times one can watch hunky men tear their pants off and wiggle their butt cheeks. Perhaps a female audience will feel differently but, irony notwithstanding, as the women in the film (Brooke is the sole exception) are portrayed as either shrieking hysterics or willing wenches, I somehow doubt it.

Tatum, who apparently got his start in showbiz as a stripper, brings a solid credibility to his role and he knows how to move on stage whilst Matthew McConaughey is a hoot as the seriously deluded stripper impresario and Ms Horn has an appealing naturalness. These are mildly pleasing decorative elements but I hardly needed to sit through the film to get its time-worn, signalled-from-the-get-go message that the true love of a beautiful flaxen-haired maiden (or whatever) is worth infinitely more than meaningless sex or even, worse, simulated meaningless sex (or whatever). And frankly I doubt that you need to either.

Much like the recent celebration of cock rock in Rock Of Ages, Magic Mike is too much of a not very good thing.




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