Watched Jul 13, 2012
Magic Mike does at least 2 incredible things. First, though it certainly initially allows for laughs, it actually gets an audience to buy in to the drama of a movie about male strippers all the while calling itself "Magic Mike". Don't under appreciate that because that's a task in and of itself. Secondly, director Steven Soderbergh makes the stripping sequences outright thrilling by filming them as religiously as one might film a Rolling Stones concert. Seriously, if shows like So You Think You Can Dance? had even HALF the editing and cinematography skill as Magic Mike I'd watch every episode, and I have next to no interest in dancing.
Besides that, Magic Mike isn't entirely unlike any number of gangster films. Channing Tatum's Mike is slavishly devoted to what he perceives to be an idyllic life until he invites a new guy into the life and sees him take things too far, prompting him to make a stand (that's a common plot that isn't solely associated with the gangster genre, but it's an easy comparison). We've seen this story a million times before, and though Magic Mike's trappings are unquestionably different the base story remains predictable. Still, it's hard not to buy into it all anyways based solely on Matthew McConaughey's brilliant performance, Channing Tatum's charm and believability, Alex Pettyfer's excellent pompousness (these three performances are all shockingly good considering these actors' past works), and Steven Soderbergh's spot-on direction and music selection - seriously, that drug sequence? Unbelievable.
Like any Soderbergh film there are plenty of scenes with nothing but subdued dialogue, something that I think will turn general audiences off a bit. In fact, I'd say there's a serious lack of comedy to the second half of the movie, which is fine for me except for the fact that the drama gets harder and harder to buy into the more the movie invites you to think about it. There are a few loose plot threads to say the least; specifically, how are we supposed to buy into a major romance sub-plot when we've seen next to no build-up, romantic tension, or meaningful character interaction? There are some scenes that would seem to indicate otherwise, but they're all so stilted and out of place they're easy to forget about. I mean, come on, that ending? That's just bad writing. Eugh.
Still, this has been the worst year for movies I've been alive for, but if you really want to get out to the theater anyways you can do a whole lot worse than Magic Mike.