Movie Guyd: Does “Magic Mike” Sizzle?

Jay Catterson
Authored by
Jay Catterson

July 2, 2012
9:05 p.m.
So the moment many a gay boy has waited for finally arrived with the opening of Magic Mike, directed by Steven Soderberg (Traffic, Erin Brockovitch). Here’s the basic premise: Mike (Channing Tatum), aka “Magic Mike,” is a wannabe entrepreneur during the day/male stripper by night, with dreams of starting his own custom-made furniture business. He meets a pretty-faced 19-year-old college dropout named Adam (Alex Pettyfer, I Am Number Four) , aka “The Kid,” and Mike shows Adam the world of exotic male dancing, where easy cash, booze, drugs, girls, and sex are aplenty. However, not all is fun and games in the world of an exotic dancer. Should you throw your dollar bills at this flick? Read on!The Good: The drama actually draws you in as the film progresses. Soderberg does a great job of showing both the humorous, fun side, and the darker side of exotic dancing, and the emotional toll that such a life could take on someone’s self-esteem. The show numbers are slick, and the dances that feature Tatum are dazzling. The scenes between Tatum and Adam’s big sister, Brooke (Cody Horn), are quite charming, and Matthew McConaughey is very entertaining as greasy Club Xquisite owner Dallas.

The Gay: Um, this is a movie about male strippers. Rippling abs, bulging pecs, g-strings, and jiggling ass cheeks galore! Include gratuitous glimpses of penis to that list, and a hilarious backstage penis pump scene involving Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello from True Blood).

Even though the guys in the movie play straight, there’s no denying some of the homoerotic undertones, such as a scene where Dallas teaches Adam how to gyrate and seduce his audience. He practically dry humps the boy from behind!

Also, Mike’s “friend with benefits,” Joanna (Olivia Munn), shares Mike’s taste in women, and partakes in the occasional menage a trois together. Speaking of group sex, there’s one scene where they tease you with the thought of a foursome happening between Adam, Ken (Matt Bomer from White Collar), Ken’s wife, and some other partygoer. Alas, they don’t show it. Now where’s that extended Director’s Cut when you need it?

The Bad: The movie is quite thin in plot development. And some of that dialogue was quite atrocious. There were times when it felt like the actors were just ad-libbing. Actually, most of the secondary characters didn’t seem to do much of anything at all. It would’ve been great to have gotten into some of the other dancers’ back stories a bit more.  I guess, in the grand scheme of things, they’re just eye candy.

And no full frontal! Sigh.

The Fugly: Yikes, this film takes you from fun to the dark underbelly of erotic dancing. For example, you know things are bad for Adam when he wakes up in a pool of vomit with a piglet eating it. Yeah. It’s dark, and it ain’t pretty.

And I dunno, but greasy McConaughey doesn’t do it for me. A bit too skeezy for my liking.

Plus, what was up with the whole film overexposure aesthetic thing? Um, hello Soderberg? J.J. Abrams just called, and he wants his lens flares back. Thanks.

Pay for a peep, or pull out? Overall, Magic Mike works, and Soderberg succeeds in examining what a life of stripping could do to someone’s self-worth. And the dance numbers don’t disappoint. If you’re expecting a carefree, lighthearted, fun summer movie, Magic Mike isn’t that. But if you want to see what a life of a stripper is like, including all the highs and lows, Magic Mike is worth the bills.

The Grade: B+

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