The Tough Life of a Male Stripper: Magic Mike Review

This is not a male stripper movie.  This is a movie about a male stripper that embodies more than just his profession during nights and weekends.  Magic Mike, directed by the great Steven Soderbergh, is being sold and plastered as a girls night out film where you see plenty of nude rares and six packs.  And in this case, yeah, you do, but there’s a lot more to this film than meets the eye.  Though women will flood to the theaters to watch Channing Tatum and cast dance to their bare, I’m not exactly sure if this movie was made for women or for men.  The approach and the point of view from this odd film feels more generated towards the guys’ mentality, their struggles and the life of insecurity.  Though it would seem that male strippers would have no problem with confidence and self-esteem, as it shows here, sometimes all women want is a face to look at and nothing more. Deep…

Magic Mike is centered around not one, but two male strippers (it comes better in pairs…Okay, I’m going to try my best to refrain from jokes, but really, I’m going to write as many as possible) who are on completely different tracks in terms of the stripper world.  Mike, or as many women know him as his stage name, Magic Mike, is the vet.  Aging but still very popular, he knows how the system works, understands the finances and the business of male entertainment.  Working almost as a partner but getting nowhere near as much, Mike’s commitment to his boss’s club is undeniably loyal.

Dallas, played by Matthew McConaughey, is the owner and businessman who uncomfortably but persuasively works with his strippers under his management.  By far McConaughey’s best work, we fully believe and accept this ridiculous role only because it’s not taken ridiculously by McConaughey.  Though passionate and charismatic, he’s still ruthless and relentless in making sure that he gets what he wants, and this in line is where the rift between the coach and the star player start to play out.

Mike, looking for a way out with his many business partnerships and entrepreneurship, attempts to make a living other than getting naked and working it ones.  That we don’t start fully seeing until we meet “The Kid” played by Alex Pettyfer.  A 19-year old fresh from dropping out of college, awkwardly gets introduced to the stripper world and instantly falls in love with it as the attention, the money and the women all come together in one grand package.

Mike and Adam (The Kid) begin this close friendship where both are heading in the opposite direction.  Mike wants out, Adam wants in (#2).  Life gets crazier for both as Mike’s desires to achieve something other than the lust of many women grows immensely, and his inability to find a woman who actually wants to talk with him instead of just plainly wanting him frustrates the somewhat depressed dancer.  Adam, on the other hand, gets deeper and deeper (#3) into this dark and hazy world and not only is he taking off his clothes for work, he starts getting in too deep with drugs and narcotics.

As you can tell, this film isn’t the easy going, girls going wild event that I think most people expected.  There’s a lot of ways people will look at this film.  Girls I think will be somewhat disappointed with the actual emphasis of plot and character development rather than stressing male nudity, and guys will look at this film and say, “I’d rather watch The Vow”.  Either way, Magic Mike is a lot more than just a stripper movie.  It would be unfair to label it as that, and Steven Soderbergh does a solid job in delivering more than what public assumes.

Besides Soderbergh’s direction, what really stands out here (I could…) is Channing Tatum and most likely his best performance as an actor.  Tatum is renown for his acting abilities.  I mean, let’s just look at his previous films and we can safely say nothing yells out Oscar worthy.  But after witnessing the year of 2012 (the year of Channing Tatum), I’m starting to see a lot of progress being made.  He’s started to learn that becoming a good actor doesn’t mean only doing action and dance films.  Though he has strong skills (his dancing here is top notch), we’re see a transition being made on his career where he actually is finding projects that work with his personality and character.

I don’t think Tatum is this heartthrob softy who falls in love with any pretty face.  Though most of his films do contain such unfortunate story line, we’re witnessing a change in his roles, focusing more on what works best with him, not him trying to do his best with something he’s not.  The swearing and obnoxious behavior, that really works for Tatum, and I think that’s in large part due to the fact that that actually might be who he is.  Yeah, he’s probably not going to be nominated for any acting awards, but for someone who has been labeled as a poor actor with good physiques, he’s starting to really showcase his abilities and talent (like a stripper). 

Really though, you can’t take this film too seriously.  It goes for depth and it definitely succeeds, but still, you do have to sit through a decent amount of male dance routines with thongs.  Every individual has a story to tell, and Magic Mike is the first for the male strippers.  For what it is, it was a solid piece of filmmaking.  And however they want to sell it, the dollar bills from the ladies will be coming their way.

Magic Mike gets 3 stars (out of 5).