out of Five
Running time: 110
Impressively directed and superbly edited, this is a hugely entertaining drama with a strong script and terrific performances from Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey, though it's slightly let down by some unnecessary clichés.
What's it all about?
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Magic Mike is set in Tampa, Florida and loosely based on the pre-fame experiences of co-star Channing Tatum, who also serves as co-producer. Tatum plays Mike, a construction worker by day and stripper by night, who dreams of starting his own custom-made furniture business. When Mike meets good looking 19 year old slacker Adam (Alex Pettyfer) on the building site, he takes him to the strip club and introduces him to colourful manager Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), who soon has Adam stripping on stage after one of the regular strippers (real-life wrestler Kevin Nash) collapses before a routine.
Coached by Mike and Dallas, Adam quickly becomes a big hit and gets a taste for the lifestyle, much to the disapproval of his older sister Brooke (Cody Horn), who's been letting Adam crash on her couch. Meanwhile, Mike finds himself falling for Brooke, but his promise to her that he'll take care of Adam takes a bit of a hammering after Adam gets a druggie girlfriend (Riley Keough) and becomes involved with the strip club's DJ-slash-drug dealer Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias).
Tatum is charming and likeable as Mike, particularly in his easy banter with sulky-faced newcomer Horn, while Pettyfer delivers his best performance to date as Adam. McConaughey (who's on something of a winning streak at the moment) is equally good as Dallas, nabbing a couple of key speeches and moments (“The law says you cannot touch, but I think I see a lotta laaaaawbreakers up in this house tonight ...”) that could possibly net him a Best Supporting Actor nomination, with a favouring wind.
Soderbergh directs with an engaging, documentary-like style, heightened by the use of Altman-esque overlapping dialogue and some intriguing editing that ensures that scenes never quite play out the way you expect. There's also a lot of humour in the film, while the energetic routines and the sheer amount of naked male flesh on display (arses only, ladies) ensures that the film will have an extremely healthy after-life on DVD.
For the most part, the script makes a commendable effort to avoid the usual clichés, so it's something of a disappointment when the drugs storyline starts to kick in, though at least Soderbergh resists some of the more obvious consequences of that idea.
Magic Mike is a well made, entertaining drama with a strong script and lively performances from Tatum and McConaughey. Needless to say, the film will play brilliantly to its target audience, but there's plenty here to enjoy either way. Recommended.