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“Magic Mike” – Review (POSITIVE)

July 1, 2012

Wasn’t sure if I’d get to review this film, but I said to myself, ‘Fuck it, it’s fuckin’ Soderbergh’. And I shouldn’t be so brainless to pass on a [Steven] Soderbergh movie, no matter what the content of the subject matter is. “Magic Mike” is somewhat a return to familiar territory for Soderbergh, in a sense this film comes into full circle from his previous gender focused movie,  “The Girlfriend Experience”.

“Magic Mike” & “The Girlfriend Experience” both deal with similar (conflicted) themes. Our two lead protagonist have an odd job (call-girl/male stripper), they’re good at what they do, they make tons of dough, and they live a pretty good life, but the same questions beg both characters, are they really happy? “The Girlfriend Experience” was a film in response to economic downfall, when “Magic Mike” is juxtaposed with a greater personal economic rise.

Mike (Channing Tatum) has a passion, making custom designed pieces of furniture he’s crafted by hand; Mike is certain that this is the true path that’ll lead him to a successful career legacy. However, for the time being, his legacy is best known for dry humping horny Tampa woman at a strip club called XCursion. Mike lives the life of a male stripper player. He has other odd jobs, car detailing company, construction worker, but his obvious and better-known gig is the latter. Mike takes 19-year-old Alex aka. The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing, teaching him about the fine life of a male stripper, with all the perks that follow.

There really isn’t much serious drama to the film, except for the bad drug scene The Kid falls into, thanks to the club’s DJ Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias). Really, the films focus is all on Mike and his issue with deciding on his future. Is stripping really in his best interest? Will it full-fill him when he’s 40+ yrs old, like his egotistical boss Dallas (Matthew McConaughey)? Mike knows that he’s somewhat of a mirror between himself and Dallas. Dallas is a guy who lives life like he’s on Cloud-fuckin’ 9, and he doesn’t give a shit who knows it. Mike’s cloud 9 however is far more distinctive and therefore more important to him, rather than Dallas’ views.

That’s what I really liked about this movie, the human drama, the conflicts every man must face, and his legacy. This movie is based on star Channing Tatum’s own life, when he was starting out as an actor, he was working as a male stripper. Screenwriter, Reid Carolin had to spruce up the back-story of Tatum’s life by giving his end goal a…less ambitious, but still challenging dream; furniture business. Otherwise from recent interviews, this movie is quite spot on Channing’s early days, and the shit he went through; male stripping has its negatives too.

Soderbergh has always been a filmmaker that is best known for being a mad scientist when it comes to camerawork. He likes to take risky choices every now and then, choosing to do overlong stable & tracking shots, and has a pleasurable time with the specific color palette. The color palette in his films have all been unique in their own personal way, to me, “Magic Mike” evokes the camera styles of “The Limey” & “sex, lies, and videotape”. Not only does the movie look good, but also I’m not ashamed to admit, we’ve got some good-looking actors (it’s a male stripper movie, c’mon lets be real) who give us beyond ‘good’ performances. Channing Tatum is really starting to make smart acting choices, now it’s starting to show that the dude has acting chops, with the right filmmaker he can be a force of nature. But, the award for best supporting/scene stealer goes to Matthew McConaughey, his character, Dallas, is just a riot from start to finish; with the help cheeky and wisecracking dialogue, you can’t help but be impressed by McConaughey’s presences on screen.

“Magic Mike” is quite the surprise in it’s overall production value from technical to strong performances, it does tend to move slow at times, but I feel you need to be in the right mind set. If you’re familiar with Soderbergh’s films, the pacing shouldn’t be much of an issue. Ladies, this movie has plenty for you, no question, guys don’t feel ashamed to see this movie with your lady, I promise this won’t be one of those movies you’ll feel after seeing it with your woman that you beg her to never take you to again. Besides guys, you’ve got a nice bonus to this movie….Olivia Munn being topless.

GRADE: A-

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