I seriously considered that being my entire review, because that accurately sums up my reaction to this beautiful example of cinematic genius. There may be a legal battle brewing between Channing Tatum and his former stripper buddies over the idea, but I do not care whose idea it was. All that matters is that this idea was executed. A strip club experience without the cover charge, expensive drinks, or some stranger’s genitals being anywhere near your face? Yes, please!
Believe it or not, the film has a plot and I feel obligated to share it. Mike (Tatum) is a jack of all trades and is trying to start his own small business. I guess he is too old to be paying his college tuition. Anyway, his credit is bad, but his body is hot, so naturally he strips with the Xquisite Male Dance Revue to rake in extra cash. While doing a roofing job, Mike meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer, whose characters are always easy to hate), a guy who can’t seem to do anything right and later takes him out on the town. To return the favor, Adam helps to convince some sorority girls to attend that night’s show at Xquisite and agrees to help out backstage. Of course, a situation arises that forces Adam to go onstage and though he cannot strip or dance at all, his performance is a huge hit and he joins the Revue.
Everyone has different goals and dreams in this film. Adam wants to live it up as much as possible, which upsets his sister Brooke (Cody Horn). Mike wants to leave the stage behind one day and settle down with a woman he can talk to, which definitely is not his promiscuous bed buddy Joanna (Olivia Munn). The club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) wants to make it to the big time in Miami and say “All right, all right, all right” as frequently as possible. And the audience wants to see attractive men shake it like a salt shaker. I will not say how the characters fared, but the audience definitely gets their wish.
If you forgot that Channing Tatum got his start in the dance film Step Up, then MM (or should I say, mmm-mmm-mmm) will be a delightful reminder. He is way more agile and acrobatic than you would expect such a muscular man to be, and his dancing is sure to be as memorable as Christina Aguilera’s singing was in Burlesque. The other strippers are very talented and entertaining, but are also great comic relief. This goes especially for “True Blood” star Joe Manganiello with his risqué stripper alias and McConaughey. Some may say that Dallas is just another example of McConaughey portraying himself in a movie, but I don’t see the big problem with that. Here he is more tanned, more toned, more vain, and seemingly more stoned than his public persona, and I think that all of those traits were perfect for the drawling egomaniac of a character that is Dallas.
You may not believe me, but the strippers’ bodies are not the only visually appealing aspects of this movie. Between Steven Soderbergh’s artful direction and the unbelievable dance moves, several scenes play like an extended, gritty music video. I appreciated how a character’s self-destruction appeared in slow motion with a backdrop of darkened neon colors, and that their self-destructive behavior was even addressed. Soderbergh and the rest of the crew could have easily made this movie an endless display of flesh, but they recognized that most of the cast can truly act. Magic Mike briefly touches on the fact that strippers not only provide an illusion for their customers, but are often living in one all of the time. And then it gets right back to the skimpy costumes and gyrating. Oh, what fun!
Magic Mike is definitely not award-worthy, but it is the best kind of sensory overload from start to finish. Go with a bunch of friends, feel free to applaud throughout the film, and resist the urge to tip the ticket taker on your way out.
Final Grade: A+