I liked Magic Mike. There, I said it. As a guy, I was worried walking into the theater (which was comprised of 90% women), but I was determined to set my preconceived notions aside and watch without judgment. What I found was a pretty decent movie about power, money, and abs girls, and the lengths men will go to get all three.
Mike (Channing Tatum) is a construction worker/car detailer/customer furniture maker by day, exotic dancer by night. On the construction site, Mike meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a young, naïve kid who doesn’t know the first thing about keeping a job. Soon enough, Adam is brought into the world of Xquisite, the all-male revue in Tampa. Mike takes Adam under his wing, and quickly pushes him onstage when a fellow performer can’t go on. Adam is instantly dubbed, “The Kid”.
The story is as much about The Kid as it is about Mike. They are essentially the same person, but at two very different points in their lives. We watch as Adam enters this new world and rises in popularity, while quickly getting lost in a sea of drugs and women. At the same time, Mike seems to be emerging from years of a perpetual hangover, realizing that one night stands and endless parties have left his actual dreams unfulfilled. Tatum is the standout, playing Mike with determination and heart. In fact, he is the only character with any redeeming qualities. Alex remains unlikeable the entire length of the film, making careless decisions, without an inch of regret.
The world of Magic Mike is interesting to me. Mike doesn’t identify himself as a stripper, he describes himself as an entrepreneur. And that’s really what this movie boils down to. It’s about money. We see Mike and Adam recruit women at bars to come see their show, handing out passes to make sure ladies fill the seats (and their wallets) every night. We hear the banter behind the curtain and surprisingly, the terms these guys use most often are “equity” and “investments”. We even watch Mike return home after a night at work as he carefully irons out the wrinkles in his stack of one dollar bills.
The movie loses steam when an ecstasy subplot enters the mix and endangers the lives of Alex and Mike. The storyline springs up rather quickly and fades into the background just as fast, never mentioned again. Mike also begins to flirt with Alex’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn), but the two have zero chemistry together. She looks bored the entire time. Matthew McConaughey has fun with the role of Dallas. And yes, he gets on stage near the end of the film (women cheered).
Sodebergh is the reason this movie doesn’t implode on itself. He balances a story that is darker than I expected, but manages to keep the film loose. It looks great too. Scenes set in the daytime are purposefully overexposed, suggesting the feeling of a daze likely felt by Mike and his fellow dancers when having to function in the “real” world.
With a reported budget of $5 million dollars, I have no doubt it will eclipse that total and then some. Will we see Magic Mike 2: Electric Boogaloo in the future? Depends on how many singles pass over the ticket counter on opening weekend.