Excuse me while I catch my breath. I saw “Magic Mike” at midnight last night and I’m still recovering. As soon as I heard there was a Channing Tatum stripper movie being released, I knew I would see it at midnight on opening day. What I didn’t know was that the movie would be great. I’m not talking about great in the sense that it involves gyrating, almost-nude men who we’ve all been ogling on shows like “White Collar”, “True Blood” and whatever the hell Alex Pettyfer was in. I mean well-written, thought-provoking and genuine. I was almost disappointed that it was more than just eye candy. I thought I’d be able to write a scathing review about how they rested on their pulsing genitals and didn’t bother with a storyline. Steven Soderbergh robbed me of that right. He, along with screenwriter/producer Reid Carolin and the (loosely based) life story of Channing Tatum, created a movie with depth and substance. And plenty of pelvic thrusts.
The theater was packed with women. There was one man who I could see, huddled in the back corner trying to blend into the wall. As soon as the opening credits started rolling the crowd got rowdy. There were shouts and clapping and other typical “Woo Girl” noises. It was amusing. At about two minutes in, we were treated to the nude rear end of Mr. Tatum. The estrogen in the room was palpable. I almost got pregnant just from the hormones in the air. Shortly after the butt shot, there were some female breasts bared. The lonely man offered a meager “wooo”, but was met with only laughs. The uterus-squeezing scenes kept coming in deliciously choreographed group and solo routines. I was impressed. And a little turned on.
The first half of the movie is all fun and games, chiseled abs and butt cheeks. There are moments that made me cover my face for lack of any better reaction and I’d watch them again and again. The film uses humor and dirty realism to create a non-cheesy atmosphere. Sure, they’re strippers and they’re great looking, but that takes hours of primping and pumping. Watch for an early scene with “Big Dick Richie” and you’ll know what I mean by pumping. Slowly throughout the movie the audience is given glimpses into the seedy underside of the industry. I know. Seedy underside to stripping?! I’m shocked. The hoots and hollers from the audience subsided and morphed into a shared sense of appreciation and a quiet urge to say, “aww”. Interspersed with the dry-humping and peeks into Magic Mike’s failed aspirations are plenty of laughs. I know what you must be thinking but I’m serious. This movie is good.
Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas, the owner of Xquisite and purveyor of the “Cock Rocking Kings of Tampa” came off as an exaggerated version of McConaughey himself. He dripped of the possibility of contracting an STD and said “alright, alright, alright!” about 47 times throughout the movie. Would you find him sexy? Maybe. But you better do it from behind a sheen of Penicillin. His body looks amazing but his posture is terrible and his flexibility is just off-putting.
Channing Tatum’s “Magic” Mike was indeed the star of the show. His dance ability is insane and takes the awkward right out of male stripping. Until you realize he’s wearing a thong, that is. He has the ability to make a face that will melt the pants right off of you. If that doesn’t work, I’m sure his literal body vibration could do the trick. He’s just…yeah. This role was honestly the best I’ve seen from him. It seems ironic that his best acting comes from a role that most of us assumed was superficial and hunky at best. The emotion was there. The disappointment and desperation were there. The rapid-fire air humping was there. What other man can pull off smoldering and sexy while wearing a banana hammock? Certainly not Matthew McConaughey.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Alex Pettyfer it’s because I found his performance a little inconsequential. Sure, he’s hot. He has a great body and he didn’t look terrible while he danced his clothes off. I’m sure others found him to be panty-dripping in the movie. He’s just not for me. I prefer to stare at Joe Manganiello’s ridiculous upper body and focus on whether or not he was rocking a prosthetic.
One top critic tagged the movie as “better than it needed to be”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. This movie would have been successful with the plot of “Showgirls” and half the star power in the cast. The fact that they went for the real deal means I won’t have to be embarrassed to admit that I will probably see it a few more times on the big screen. And so will you.