June 30, 2012

Magic Mike Review- Abs, Thongs, and Ding Dongs. Don't Judge a Film By It's Eye Candy

Last Friday I posted this as my Facebook status:
"I'm seeing Magic Mike for the plot"- Nobody

In about an hour my slight joke received 31 likes (mostly women) all agreeing about one simple thing. No one cared about the storyline of the 1 hour and 50 minute long dong shaking, ass flexing, panty evaporating, lust fest.  Even the TV advertisements didn't bother explaining the plot (because when you have Channing Tatum, who needs a plot, right?) As a Stephen Soderbegh fan I admit that I went into that movie theater last night like a red blooded XX chromosome wanting to see a good time. Screw the plot I thought to myself as I prepped myself for the magic to begin (pun intended.)

 The moment the film started my feelings changed immensely. The film geek emerged, trumped the raging hormones, and I took notice of the amazing shot angles, use of cinematography, lighting, dialogue, and so on. Oh, that's right! This is Stephen's film. I looked around the theater at the estrogen filled commune as their eyes stayed locked in anticipation for the show that was promised to them by their advertisers. Little did they know they were getting much more (or less) then they bargained for.

Let me just get down to the point. I have noticed that a good portion of people (mostly women) say that besides the obvious tour de force of dancing by the many good looking men that grace the center stage, Magic Mike was boring with a weak plot. Now, I am going to go out on a limb and say that most of these women came in expecting something that was, once again, promised by the endless commercials that plagued our TVs for months.

And I don't blame them. Because I bet that the teenagers, housewives, and underaged pre-pubecents who mangaed to sneak into the screening, had no clue that this was a Soderbergh film, which meant that the chances of the entire film being a series sexy dance montages was slim. I bet most even thought that this was going to be *gag* a fluffy Romantic Comedy (with Channing Tatum just coming off of The Vow, it's not an unfair presumption.) It's funny, but I have talked to men who have seen it and they have told me that they were pleasently surprised by the film and actually liked it (probably relived that it wasn't an estrogen filled nightmare like it was expected to be.)

And as I read these reviews from the disillusioned female audience members who felt the plot was weak or didn't get it or felt that there should've been less plot and more dancing, I find myself sort of holding back. Because even though I would love to go and defend Soderbergh's work and give a long essay on why the film was the way it was, I can't. I always have to remind myself that not all people understand the layers of a film or appreciate a director's intentions when it comes to shots, music, characters, etc. Because not everyone is a raging cinephile like me. They are, however, mainstream consumers. And as consumers they were expecting Magic Mike to be something that it wasn't. Is it their fault that they set their expectations high? No! They didn't pay $9 to see an artsy Soderbergh film! No! They came to see hot men dancing, dammit! *Slams fist on table* Hot men, in tight outfits, and bulging calves to hoot and holler at in an impure manner! So, is it the advertisers fault? No. Because they did their jobs. They got butts in the seats and they generated the hype that was needed to get people talking. Sure, they promoted the heck out of the eye candy and pushed the actual plot to the back burner. It worked. So in either case no one is to blame really. 

Magic Mike is a story about a guy named Mike (Tatum) who takes new guy Adam (Pettyfer) under his wing and shows him the life of a male stripper. Meanwhile, Mike is trying to break away from the stripping business and start his own company. However, several subplots start to form that hinder his break away. Mike also falls for Adam's sister, Brooke (Horn) and life becomes a tad more complicated for him.

Not to spoil anything for those who haven't seen it, but here is a break down of the actor's preformance:

Channing Tatum- *stands up/ slow clap* I never had a real opinion on Channing Tatum. I wasn't a fan nor did I dislike the guy. Though in the past his acting left a lot to be desired, he kept on getting roles (have only seen 21 Jump Street, Step Up, GI: Joe, and Magic Mike.) Now, however, the thing  I really like about Tatum is that he tries his hardest. He knows he's not Sir Laurance Olivier, but he works with his talent range and uses it to the best of his abilities. Ladies, his dancing will give you heart paloputations. That's all I will say. But the real thing that stands out is his performance. This is by far his best film in my opinion. The massive improvement from the beginning of his career to now is amazing and admirable. And for that I tip my hat off to you, Mr. Tatum (and to your abs.)

Alex Pettyfer- I mean what can I say? Pettyfer was good. Nothing too stand out, but playing the dick probably wasn't too far of stretch for him. Their is one point around the end when he's talking to Mike and that level of asshole-ness and douchedom just dribbles from his mouth. It's a solid performance, but not that breakout role that Pettyfer might've been hoping for.

Cody Horn- Their is nothing I hate more than watching a film couple interact and one is giving 100% while the other does the exact opposite. This is how I felt when watching Cody Horn's scenes with Tatum. It's like she just graduated from the Kristen Stewert school of acting and Soderbergh just plopped her right in the movie (let's just ignore the fact that she is the daughter of Warner Brother's president and COO, Alan Horn.) I feel bad for coming down on her (because everyone seems to be ripping her a new one) but I just don't know if she was directed to act the way she did or if it was a conscious decision. I just couldn't feel the chemistry between the 2 characters (Brooke and Mike) which made some of Mike's decisions a little unbelievable at times (because why would a charismatic guy like Mike want to sacrifice everything for a bland piece of soggy toast like Brooke? Harsh? Sorry.) I know I'll get flack for this but I would've placed Blake Lively in this role instead. Lively's no Streep, but even she can manage to wrangle up some sign of emotion.


(Sorry, for the weird spacing. Ugh. Blogspot -.-) I enjoyed Magic Mike. Unlike some, I appreciated that a story about male strippers had  realistic substance, and  wasn't a constant superficial exploitation of the actor's fine physiques (not saying it's a bad thing, I'm just glad it didn't go that route.) I enjoyed how the thin plot line was more like "a day in the life" (a la Shame) than a concrete storyline. This film would've probably fit right in at a film festival or an independent theatre. As the crew over at Spill said, Soderbergh mangaes to go mainstream while still keeping that independent quality to his films. Maybe, that's why some thought the plot was weak while others (like me enjoyed it.)  Being the experimentist that he is, Soderbergh takes these amazing shots that are so cool and innovative that even I was grinning to myself. I really liked the yellow (almost saturated at times) tone he used to compliment the humid Florida setting. 

Magic Mike is not perfect. However, I believe that it deserves all the critical claim it is receiving. As they said on the Magic Mike Facebook Page- don't judge a movie by it's eye candy. B+


  1. I was literally the only guy in the packed theater I saw this in, and you could see the wave of disappointment that fell over the women in my audience. It was hysterical. They had no idea the movie was actually going to have a legit story (and look so damn good, too). We mostly agree on this film, which is awesome. Really nice review here.