Sunday, 15 July 2012

REVIEW: Magic Mike

Dir.: Steven Soderbergh
With: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer

I am not going to lie – I’ve spent the entire film with a stupid grin stuck on my face. I just could not help it, the sight of those ridiculous male bodies with such defined pecs that you could probably grate some Parmesan for your pasta on them, was madly captivating.

I’ve been looking forward to this film for a while because when I heard that Soderbergh was directing a movie about male striptease, I naturally assumed that it will be quite a serious insight into the life of someone who does not have the easiest of ways of making a living. Besides, it is based on Channing Tatum’s own experiences as a stripper in his early youth. Then the trailer came out and it became obvious that the film will be more fun than a barrel of monkeys (that’s a new saying I’ve picked up in the States ^-^). And yes, the dance performances were great and I take my hat off to the male artistes for their acrobatics but I can’t help the feeling that the film was, essentially, about nothing. The protagonist, Magic Mike played by Channing Tatum is a 30-year-old stripper who juggles a couple of day jobs with his onstage persona at the Xquisite club. He finds himself a 19-year-old protégé in the shape of The Kid, aka Alex Pettyfer (a very dull performance from him). Mike develops a soft spot for The Kid’s no-nonsense sister, which results in him finally trying to take hold of his life’s course.

The dialogues that take place outside of Magic Mike’s night shifts are very boring indeed, which in a way highlights the dreariness of Mike’s life. There are some allusions to the real-life problems associated with this sort of occupation – short shelf life, no career prospects and a general atmosphere of decay and exploitation. Yet, these are not thoroughly explored and the film ends up being a series of dance numbers interchanged with a few poorly written angsty conversations. The portrayal of the other guys in the “troupe” is remarkably innocent. Their personal troubles are never uncovered, much like their genitalia, which remain chastely covered up by various sassy underwear pieces.

However, as I said, the dances are very entertaining and if you are female, a gay man or a super-comfortable-with-his-sexuality heterosexual male, I am sure you would appreciate them. As a final note I’d like to mention Matthew McConaughey who was the best thing about the movie and has recently been making very interesting career choices. Jeered at as he is for the string of topless and toothy roles in a number of romcoms in which he starred, this year alone he has been in two films that competed at Cannes (‘Mud’ and ‘Paperboy’) and his work in ‘Killer Joe’ has been praised by many film critics. In ‘Magic Mike’ he plays Dallas – the madame of the club, a sleazy, manipulative, yet terribly charming host. I think it is just so cool of him to go out there and poke fun at his own reputation. Look, this is him poking fun at his reputation:

And may I just say, the vision of him performing one final dance, by the end of which he was left in a g-string full of dollar bills and cowboy boots (see above image) was worth the price of my ticket. He deserves an Oscar for Best Supporting Role. Hehe. What can I do, it’s impossible not to feel pervy after this amount of gyrating pelvises literally thrust into one’s face. 

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