Magic Mike (2012)

Magic Mike (2012)
  • Time: 109 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey


Mike Lane is a thirty-year old living in Tampa,Florida. By day he works as a roofer whilst at night, as Magic Mike, he is the star attraction of the Kings of Tampa, a group of male strippers. Secretly he wants out in order to further a projected furniture-making business but his credit rating precludes a bank loan for this despite his considerable savings. One night Adam, a teen-aged work-mate of Mike, follows him to the club and, when one of the acts is unable to go on,he is prevailed upon to strip – becoming a huge hit. However success goes to his head and his foolish actions not only threaten to jeopardize his sister Brooke’s relationship with Mike but Mike’s ambitions as well.


  • Magic Mike opens in a bright but subtly sleazy nightclub, with Matthew McConaughey’s (following his dark turn in 2011’s Killer Joe and continuing his recent career renaissance) strip-club owner Dallas, dressed in leather and a cowboy hat, stroking his private area and asking the ladies in the audience “can you touch this? No, no, no, no.” But Magic Mike, loosely based on lead actor Channing Tatum’s experiences as a stripper aged 18, shows that the ladies certainly can touch it, giving us a fascinating and slightly intoxicating insight into a male fantasy life, warts and all, and the lack of substance that comes with it.

    Dallas’s main attraction at his Xquisite Strip Club is ‘Magic’ Mike Lane (Tatum), who when he is not packing the club with screaming ladies, has threesome’s with his kind-of girlfriend Joanna (Olivia Munn) and takes construction work to help fund his entrepreneurial aspirations. He meets college drop-out Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and calls in a favour after he helps Adam into a club one night, promising him paid work if he helps backstage while the men perform on it. Mike and Dallas eventually throw him on stage, and the ladies love him. But Adam has his demons, and his sister Brooke (Cody Horn), makes Mike promise to look out for him.

    Although the film is primarily about Mike, the first third of the film mainly focuses on Adam, giving us a wide-eyed view-point into this seductive world of admiring women, endless parties, and all the uppers you could pray for. Mike seems custom made for this world and he embraces the g-strings, body oil, and all the superficialities that come with the job. But as he witnesses Adam’s head-first plunge into self-destruction, he begins to wonder if the benefits of the job outweigh the ultimate cost. Director Steven Soderbergh manages to capture these moments with a sickly sordidness.

    It also has a brighter side, with Tatum once again bringing a likeability to the all-American jock type. It’s the first male stripper film since The Full Monty (1997) of any note, and the strip scenes are infused with an energy and a playfulness that is funny without mocking the industry. The dance routines are increasingly ridiculous, one in which has ‘Big Dick’ Richie (True Blood’s Joe Manganiello) end his routine with the unveiling of his not-so-secret weapon, and Tatum busting some genuinely impressive moves. The romance that develops between Mike and Brooke is predictable but sweet, mainly thanks to Horn’s performance, and it’s about 20 minutes too long, but ultimately Magic Mike is an engaging and sometimes unconventional experience.

    Rating: 4/5

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  • “Will you welcome to the stage, the one, the only… Magic Mike!”

    Seven years ago when Lee Ang released Brokeback Mountain (2005), there were concerns that it was normalizing, if not promoting, homosexuality. Anyone who bothered to see it was labeled as gay. “You went to catch Brokeback? I didn’t know you were gay,” was easily one of the most common of responses of the year when a guy commented that he had just seen the film and loved it.

    Move to the future that is 2012, and despite Singapore being more liberal and diverse, it seems like there is this silent assumption that any guy who buys a ticket to catch Magic Mike, a film about male strippers, is most obviously gay. “You mean you went to catch Magic Mike? I didn’t know you like hot and sweaty male bodies.”

    In P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia (1999), Tom Cruise’s character said, “I’m quietly judging you,” well, I had that same feeling of being quietly judged when I bought a ticket to see Magic Mike. But of course, I wasn’t there to see Channing Tatum or Matthew McConaughey strip to their thongs; I was simply there to catch Steven Soderbergh’s new film.

    Magic Mike is a dazzling film, captivating in its sight and sound, engaging in its dance choreography, but as with recent Soderbergh pictures like Haywire (2011) and Contagion (2011), it lacks the kind of dramatic substance that have made films like Erin Brockovich (2000) and Traffic (2000) so good.

    Magic Mike features an excellent physical performance by Tatum, but McConaughey steals the show with his deep, seductive voice. McConaughey’s character heads a male stripping club, recruiting young men like Tatum’s title character. The film is vulgar, and features loads of sexually suggestive movements, but there is never explicit nudity.

    Soderbergh is more interested in the performers than the sleazy act itself. He tries to develop his characters in between all the dances, but it somehow never works, especially the relationship between Mike and Adam (Alex Pettyfer).

    Magic Mike impresses in its first half, but slowly fades into an above-average drama with pretty shots and thumping dance tracks. Soderbergh’s effort in making an accessible and youthful picture about something as fascinating as male strippers eventually comes across as… plain. But at least you will come away without treating male stripping with disdain, but instead see it as a provocative modern art form.

    Verdict: Soderbergh’s take on the strip show dazzles with sight and sound, but his film lacks dramatic substance.

    GRADE: C+

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