Written by Reid Carolin
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer and Cody Horn
The life of a male exotic dancer isn’t all banana hammocks and dollar bills. As Magic Mike probes the complicated world of male strippers, the film reveals that strippers are like us — they just happen to have their own set of half-naked problems.
Loosely based on Channing Tatum’s early career as an exotic dancer, the film is centred around his character Mike, a construction worker by day and veteran stripper by night. After meeting down-on-his-luck underachiever Adam (Alex Pettyfer) at his day job, Mike introduces him to the glamourous world of stripping — complete with cash, drugs and girls. The two men spend their nights dancing and entertaining the women of Tampa Bay at the club Xquisite, run by silver-tongued owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). But as his life of excess causes Adam to spiral out of control, Mike is left to pick up the pieces and justify his choices to Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn), reexamining his own life along the way.
Magic Mike has all the loud music, colourful cinematography and catchy dance routines you’d expect from a film about male strippers from Florida. But what’s surprising is it also has a solid storyline beneath all the visual glitz and glamour. Combine that with surprisingly solid acting from the entire cast, and Magic Mike ends up being a lot more than just well-choreographed dancing and grinding.
As a father figure to Pettyfer’s character, Tatum’s acting in particular keeps the film exciting as he teaches his protégé the ways of stripping world. Pettyfer aptly tackles the good-kid-gone-bad role as his character begins to indulge too much in the pleasures that come with the job.
The film finds a way to blend the seemingly glamourous lifestyle with the ugly underside of the male stripping world. With director Steven Soderbergh at the helm and a convincing script from Reid Carolin, the movie delivers exactly what it promises, giving an eyeful to anyone in the theatre just to witness some half-naked men prancing around. But beyond that, Carolin succeeds in delivering a script that has interesting, well-defined characters and an enthralling story that keeps the film from being purely about eye candy.
There’s no doubt half of Magic Mike’s purpose is to deliver opportunities to ogle Tatum and the rest of the cast in very little clothing. Still, the film ultimately manages to offer a genuinely good story with characters that are just as well-defined as the dancers’ biceps. With this combination of good writing, solid acting and colourful cinematics, Magic Mike deserves all the dollar bills a sequined thong can handle.