Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) runs the Xquisite male stripper joint in Tampa, Florida, whre 'Magic' Mike works to supplement his income as a builder's labourer so he can start his own small furniture design business. When Mike meets young Adam (Alex Pettyfer) on the building site, he quickly invites him to his other workplace - where Adam soon gets a chance to become part of the floorshow. But Adam's sister Brooke (Cody Horn) disapproves - as she does of Mike. Undeterred, Adam sucks up the lifestyle which ends badly for all concerned and makes Brooke even more determined not to have anything to do with Mike.
Review by Louise Keller:
Sex, illusion and striptease are the tantalising ingredients of Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike, in which an impressionable teen is given a license for women, money and a good time. Sex is the sizzle - for both the audience of the male stripper dance revue and the performers, who indulge as if consuming a degustation menu. Soderbergh initially opens the dressing room door by just a crack, inviting us into this ego-driven sleazy world where hips gyrate suggestively, naked flesh is bared and bulges exposed. It's an encompassing experience and a great platform for Channing Tatum who athletically drops his dacks, flaunts his butt and shows there is more to him than meets the eye. The film itself has plenty of entertainment value and some titillation especially for female audiences, even if it does not quite provide the orgasmic hit we crave.
The opening scene in which we meet Mike (Tatum), we observe quite a lot about him. He indulges in kinky sex and shaves his pubes. On a building site, he seems to be a regular guy, but when the sun goes down his entrepreneurial night job is revealed. After chatting up young girls in a nightclub over shots and talking up the Tampa strip club Xquisite where he works to secure his audience, it is show time - and it's all about sex. The buff all-male performers with sculpted abs and a come-and-get-it-look carry out their pumped sexy routines with phallic-shaped props, trench coats and skimpy thongs.
The eager young female audience enthusiastically stuff dollar notes into G-strings and squeal their delight through lap dances and sex simulation. After all, this is about Sex: The Illusion, not The Reality, so no guilt required to lug home to waiting boyfriend or husband. Matthew McConaughey is a stand out as the strip club compere and owner who turns sleaze into an artform as he swivels, pumps and clutches his crotch in ultra low-slung jeans. (More flesh is revealed later.)
It is into this reality that Mike introduces Adam (Alex Pettyfer), an impressionable 19 year old looking to make his mark. Adam's journey from gauche to cocky is credibly paced and by the time he is popping ecstasy pills to underage girls and throwing punches, we know he is out of control. Pettyfer is excellent in a role that is light years away from his boy-next-door debut in Stormbreaker (2006).
But of course this is also a boy meets girl story: Cody Horn is well cast as Brooke, Adam's caring and responsible older sister whose expression (when she ventures to the strip club to watch her brother perform) might be of disbelief but it does not stop her from sticking around to watch Mike's impressive routine. The relationship between Brooke and Mike is nicely handled; it is more about what is left unsaid than the words that are spoken.
This might not be Soderbergh's most complete film but it is a vibrant and colourful one with enough grit (as well as grind) to lure us into this world of sexual mirage for a brief, hypnotic interlude.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
On the cinematic scale from 1 to 10, the stakes in this story hover around 1. The end of the world would be a 10. But on the scale of chick flicks, Magic Mike is probably a 10, combining large quantities of male stripping action in a nightclub setting and a soppy romantic tale in which the girl's influence turns the macho man into a mushy puppy.
The girl is Brooke, (Cody Horn), a lovely blonde whose brother Adam (Alex Pettyfer) has been led astray by Mike (Channing Tatum) and worse still, ended up overdosing on drugs. He survives, but Mike's relationship with Brooke does not. Of course it doesn't end there, but there isn't much more. The film devotes enormous screen time to the male strippers, to the extent that we wonder if it's not just a movie about their latest moves and dance routines. What little story there is gets perfunctory attention.
But if you're in the target market, rest assured the male strippers deliver value for money; the routines are funky and energetic, and of course, in your face (literally). Sit in the front row to get the full effect ...
The exterior shots are lovely, though, seaside sunshine in California's idyllic style. And Cody Horn is terrific in the role, with a face you can't take your eyes off - unless you're a 20something chick waiting for another strip routine.
Sadly the film left me twiddling my thumbs for the entire first half, and not much more engaged the second half, even when things got heavy as a surprise strip gig at a party goes wrong and Adam loses $10,000 worth of drugs with which he is entrusted by a co-worker for resale. Even that is a rather low stake in the cinematic scope of druggie things. You can say Soderbergh is tracing the trajectory of two different men in similar circumstances and how realistic it is - and I say so what.
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MAGIC MIKE (MA15+)
CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, Olivia Munn, Alex Pettyfer, James Martin Kelly, Cody Horne, Reid Carolin, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglasias, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez
PRODUCER: Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum, Nick Wechsler
DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
SCRIPT: Reid Carolin
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steven Soderbergh (as Peter Andrews)
EDITOR: Steven Soderbergh (as Mary Ann Bernard)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen J. Erdberg
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 26, 2012
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.