Magic Mike movie review: Under Channing's spell
Inspired by Channing Tatum’s own stripper past, this movie dazzles with Tatum’s mesmerizing dance moves, Matthew McConaughey’s delightful self-parody, and a bevy of leather-clad hotties! Ladies, don’t miss the sexiest, most indulgent eye candy movie of the summer!
Does our job define who we are? Should it? Meet Mike (Channing Tatum) -- construction worker by day, male stripper by night. But he has big plans, like starting his own custom furniture business among other entrepreneurial endeavors. He’s saving money, but has no credit. His good looks and charm do him little good when he goes to the bank to apply for a loan. He tells the bank lady, “The businesses I’m in… they deal exclusively in cash.” This scene perfectly shows Mike’s skilled rapport when it comes to women -- and how ultimately, charisma doesn’t matter when it comes to gaining a financial edge.
On a construction job he meets a young slacker named Adam (Alex Pettyfer), who could be a decent hustler if he had any motivation. Mike takes Adam, who he nicknames “The Kid,” under his wing and exposes him to the seemingly glamorous lifestyle that rains women and dollar bills at a club called Xquisite.
The club owner is a Southern-stud named Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), who, in a cowboy hat and leather chaps, is a master at getting the all-female audience riled up. His dancers include pretty-boy Ken (Matt Bomer), who does a Ken doll act, Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello) who does, well, I don’t think his gimmick needs an explanation. There’s wild man Tarzan (Kevin Nash), who channels his inner Mickey Rourke while swinging on a rope and then there’s rico suave Tito (Adam Rodriguez).
Dallas sees great potential in The Kid and soon, ladies are screaming for him. One lady who’s not crazy about his new career is his big sister, Brooke (Cody Horn). After dropping out of college despite his football scholarship, The Kid is now sleeping on his sister’s couch. She’s more than a little disturbed when she catches him shaving his legs with her razor.
As Magic Mike gets to know Brooke, it’s clear he’s falling for her. She’s pretty, morally grounded, and very protective of her immature brother, knowing his shortcomings all too well. Mike tries his charm on Brooke, but she has no interest in his man-meat “lifestyle.” But if there’s one thing a man loves, it’s a challenge. Can Mike prove to her that he's more than just a stripper, that all the women, all the money doesn't compromise his identity? In what may be the strongest performance of Channing Tatum's career, we watch Mike grow up before our eyes.
Just as we learn that life as a male stripper isn’t all fun and games, The Kid gets into some deep trouble when he bumbles a drug deal and his partying gets out of control. There is a deeper side to each of these characters who all want love and acceptance, just like everyone else. Director Steven Soderbergh does a tremendous job managing to play up the indulgent strippers and their sexy gyrations while actually making us care about these people and wonder what the future holds for them.