Movie Review: Magic Mike
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Magic Mike
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Reid Carolin
Starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn
Warner Bros.
Rated R | 110 Minutes
Release Date: June 29, 2012

“Alright, Alright, Alright!”

Magic Mike is directed by Steven Soderbergh (Haywire, The Girlfriend Experience), based on a screenplay by Reid Carolin. The film stars Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street) as Michael “Magic Mike” Lane, an entrepreneur-slash-stripper in Tampa, Florida.

Adam (Alex Pettyfer) is a down-and-out slacker who, after losing his football scholarship, moves in with his sister, Brooke (Cody Horn). To make ends meet, Adam answers a CraigsList ad and gets a job at a local construction company where he meets Mike. Mike’s a busy guy – he’s got his own automotive detailing service, he makes custom-made furniture, and still finds time to do ultra-manly construction work when he isn’t stripping.

Because he’s a slacker, Adam quits on his first day and catches a ride home with Mike, who introduces him to the world of exotic dancing. Co-starring in Soderbergh and Carolin’s stripped-down story are Matt Bomer (In Time) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood) as male dancers working under Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), owner of Tampa’s Xquisite Male Dance Revue.

Under the tutelage of Dallas, Adam becomes “The Kid” and lives every 19-year-old guy’s dream, surrounded by money and girls. Mike, meanwhile, tries to impress Adam’s over-protective sister, who isn’t exactly cool with the whole male stripper lifestyle. The story gets heavy as Adam indulges in sex and drugs and gets in over his head, while Mike desperately tries to get his shit together so he can start his own business and leave Xquisite behind.

While most of Magic Mike‘s box office receipts are a direct result of women wanting to see McConaughey, Manganiello, and Tatum take their clothes off, there’s actually a pretty good movie underneath all the lap dances and tight-fitting sailor suits. Magic Mike is more art-house than you might think – if you’re expecting the Ladies Night answer to Striptease and Showgirls, you’ll be surprised by the dark, somber tone the film takes on.

There’s a stigma that a film about exotic dancing (especially male strippers) can’t be taken seriously, but that’s certainly not the case with Magic Mike – which features some pretty great performances by Tatum, McConaughey, and newcomer Cody Horn. It’s hard to say if Soderbergh’s film will get any recognition come awards season, but I could see McConaughey getting some Supporting Actor nominations.

Let’s all just take a moment to recognize the insane turn-around that Channing Tatum’s career has made. A few years ago, after the disastrous, laughable G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, I was sure it was all over for the Step Up star – but after a couple Nicholas Sparks joints and a hilarious turn in 21 Jump Street, Tatum has skyrocketed to the top of the list of up-and-coming leading men. He’s currently filming Sodberbergh’s next film, The Bitter Pill, which co-stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The film’s sensitive approach to the source material, including Soderbergh’s subtle, chameleon-like directorial style, combined with a smart, often humorous, screenplay, and strong performances should allow audiences to appreciate Magic Mike on various levels.

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