(There MIGHT be spoilers.)
There is a number of similarities between Magic Mike and Hepatitis C: drawn out, painful, jaundiced. The difference is in the after. At the end of every deadly illness, you have a newfound appreciation for life whereas in Magic Mike you realize that life can be very stagnant.
Call me traditional but I like happily ever afters. Where guy gets girl, guy’s dreams come true, bad guy rots in hell. Magic Mike features Channing Tatum as the eponymous Mike, the enterprising star of a male revue stripping to save up for a furniture business. He meets The Kid (Alex Pettyfer), a 19-year-old loaded with an appropriate amount of teen angst, and introduces him to the apparently rock and rolling world of revealing flesh before “thousands” of ogling women. Eventually The Kid becomes the latest member of X-Quisite, the stripping joint owned by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).
After several bare-assed performances–all pretty tame, for your information–Mike loses all his savings, is duped by a friend, tires from being stereotyped as a beefcake, and eventually quits the business. Don’t feel bad though, because despite all the turmoil, he gets the girl.
There’s nothing surprising, really. We’ve seen more wit in The Full Monty, cooler dance moves in Boot Men, and better stripping in Flash Dance. The 2000 film Traffic even has a far more attractive filtered hue. Truthfully, I had more fun watching Danny Devito strip a la cop in the 10th season of Friends. And Matthew McConaughey? He never wears shirts in real life anyway. We’ve seen every nook and cranny of his well-oiled physique.
While Tatum manages well on his own and Pettyfer is way too good-looking to look bad (especially sans pants), the passable acting and killer bodies are skin deep. The entire theme of Magic Mike invites considerable interest and will have you oohing and aahing but onlyat the first 20 to 30 minutes. Then it goes into flat line; the last hiccup of life ending with McConaughey and Pettyfer’s intimate mirror moment.
No sudden revelation that didn’t involve sticking out the pelvis, no metanoia, no one was gay, no one even got fat. The good guy becomes worse off, the douche bag ends up becoming a bigger douche, and the little dancing extras (including Matt Bomer) remain little dancing extras.
But then again maybe that’s the point. As the film reveals Mike’s supposed mid-life crisis, another crisis was raised, one of identity–for the movie. Was it supposed to be fun? ‘Cause director-editor-cinematographer Steven Soderbergh could’ve just edited out the painful, metaphysical unease bits. Was it supposed to be about self-discovery? Because surely there’s no need for lewdness for that. Together it was just an odd, yellowish jumble where at one point, all the butt jingling won’t do anything for you anymore.
Sex sells. But then a thong-wearing group of beefcakes just isn’t a movie.