Magic Mike 2012 ★★★★

Wow. MAGIC MIKE is one heck of a surprisingly great time! Perhaps I’m still in my post Channing Tatum shaking his incredibly hot stuff all over the place haze but still, who knew you could take a movie about a handful of male strippers and turn it into an insightful and oddly charming film? Steven Soderbergh and his new bro, Tatum, did, that’s who. By loosely adapting Tatum’s own experience getting wrapped up in the sexy world of all naked male revue, Soderbergh strips away all the pretense that has weighed down some of his more recent works. If Soderbergh had hair, this would be him with it down. Way down.

Alex Pettyfer plays Adam, the character who is supposed to be Tatum and who would later come to be known as The Kid. He is 19 years old, living on his sister’s (Cody Horn) couch in Tampa, Florida, and uninterested in any work that has him answering to any authority or wearing a tie. In other words, he’s lost. He meets Mike (the magic one himself, Mr. Tatum, who impresses with way more than just his perfect pecs here) on a construction site and before he knows what’s happening, he’s being shoved on stage and taking off his clothes for screaming women aplenty. Naturally, with all the ladies hooting, hollering and constantly shoving dollar bills down his G-string, The Kid takes to the lifestyle pretty quickly. Mike takes him under his wing, like a little stripper prodigy, and the two embark on a summer unlike any one I’ve ever had. You can’t have this much fun without consequence though (unless you’re just watching MAGIC MIKE, that is) and summers always inevitably turn to fall.

The beauty of Soderbergh’s work in MAGIC MIKE is that it is entirely effortless. The guys are up there having a good time and we are having just as much fun watching them. While the film does inspire plenty of cat calling from the audience though, Soderbergh is smart enough to remind us ever so subtly that it isn’t really a party if it happens every night. The Kid is only 19, after all, and even Mike has bigger dreams he’s long put on hold while chasing the easy money he makes on stage. Before it’s over, there is a shift in tone that has been slowly building the whole while, only we were far too distracted to notice. This fantastic world is exposed to be one that can free your mind but trap your soul in the process. Before you know it, you’re 30 years old, the fresh faces are gunning for you and you got nowhere else to go. This isn’t necessarily revelatory but that doesn’t matter because Soderbergh makes it feel real. And damn, it sure was fun while it lasted!

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