- Channing Tatum plays a stripper and Matthew McConaughey a club owner in "Magic Mike"
- Director Steven Soderbergh's last movie was the female action film "Haywire"
- The movie is inspired by Tatum's experiences as a Tampa stripper in the 1990s
There are guy movies and girl movies, the latter of which the guys label "chick flicks" and often only ever see under protest. In "Sleepless in Seattle" the late Nora Ephron had fun with the idea that for a typical guy, the definition of a tearjerker would be "The Dirty Dozen" (because that's about as emotional as we fellas want to get).
Is "Magic Mike" a chick flick?
If it is, it may the first of a new breed. It's a crisp, unsentimental story, with none of those lingering sunset shots you find in Nicholas Sparks' adaptations (well, OK, almost none), and a heroine who spends most of the movie tutting her disapproval on the sidelines. But for sure, women are going to be this film's primary audience.
Why? Because Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) is a stripper, and so is his mentor, club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), and his 19-year-old protégé, Adam (Alex Pettyfer). Just a hunch, but I reckon a lot of guys are going to hold out for "The Amazing Spider-Man" next week.
Director Steven Soderbergh's last movie was the female action film "Haywire," which didn't click with audiences of either sex. But he may be on to something this time.
From the opening shots of a buff, naughty McConaughey teasing the audience in tight leather trousers ("What can't you touch?"), it's clear that Soderbergh has the measure of what his audience wants. He's going to give it to them, too, but not too much, too soon because the tease is as important as the strip.
A college dropout who draws the line at taking any job that requires him to wear a tie, Adam is living with his big sister Brooke (Cody Horn) when his new buddy Mike ushers him into the delights of the Xquisite Male Dance Revue. In time-honored backstage musical tradition, "the kid" gets thrown on stage when one of the stars can't go on. Next thing he knows, Adam is shopping for a stars and stripes thong for the Fourth of July special.
Scripted by Reid Carolin and inspired by Channing Tatum's own experiences as a Tampa stripper in the 1990s, "Magic Mike" is honest about the attractions of the job (money, girls, fun) without pretending it's a smart choice in the long run (too much fun, too many girls, not enough money). I liked the brightly lit, casual camaraderie of the dressing room scenes, while on stage the routines here are sexy, playful and (I'm guessing) much better choreographed than you're likely to see downtown on a Saturday night.
Brawny and bruised, Tatum doesn't look like it but he is a heck of a dancer. If the movie was in 3-D you'd probably be stuffing bills into his briefs, bills like the ones we see Mike flattening under a heavy book in one of the film's numerous truthful touches.
Less interesting is Mike's haphazard courtship of Brooke. Is it a coincidence that Cody Horn is the daughter of Warner Bros. President Alan Horn? I have no idea, but she's a bland performer and the weak link here (Olivia Munn blows her away as a slumming psychology student who is Mike's substitute girl).