I am sure on the surface Magic Mike would seem to be something a long the lines of Showgirls but with men. It isn’t really, although the two do share some similarities. This is loosely based upon Channing Tatum’s own experiences as a dancer and stripper, and the drama’s that come with it.
Tatum plays the title character of Magic Mike, dancer and stripper by day, roofer and construction man by day along with a few businesses on the side. His dream is to earn enough money to start a custom furniture business; the night-time work helps him with money. Things change for Mike when he meets the young Adam (Alex Pettyfer) at his roofing job, Adam seems to be a bit of a screw up, crashing on his sisters couch with no direction in life. He befriends Mike, and Mike gets him a behind the scenes job at the Xquisite club where he dances and strips at, run by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). On his first night there Adam is introduced to the team (consisting of Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez and Kevin Nash), and he sees how they entertain the women and make money. After one of the team collapses, Adam gets sent out to perform, his innocence and awkwardness win over the crowd and he gets into the game. Mike takes Adam under his wing, and acts as a mentor to him. At first it is all fun and games, but the more he gets into the lifestyle, the more trouble he gets himself into. On the side Mike is trying to better himself, mentor Adam and winds up falling for Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn).
I didn’t think this plot write up would be that long, but there is actually a fair bit going on with this, and it isn’t quite as simple as the trailers have made it out to be. I have left out a big chunk, but you have to watch the film to see all of that unfold. This does seem like a weird choice for Soderbergh but his career has been made out of weird and out of the box choices. This does feel like one of his films, and here it mixes drama and comedy pretty well and it has a bit of a charm about it. This doesn’t aim to be an exposé of the male stripping profession; this is about its main characters and the choices they make and how it affects others around them (more so with Adam than Mike there). The film as a whole works but there are elements that don’t, and some that don’t have to do with the third act which I’d rather not get into because that would be a huge spoiler.
What did work was the characters, and specifically Mike himself. He’s a likable guy, and he’s easy to follow around through the film. The performance is pretty strong by Tatum, he has the right material for his talents to work with, and he really owns it. Brooke is also an interesting character, and the performance by Cody Horn is really good, the pair (Tatum and Horn) have great chemistry and their scenes together really light up the film. Adam is kind of a brat character; he has this likable quality yet there is also that unlikable aspect. This actually feels very real, he’s young and getting himself into trouble, so it works for the film but it comes across strange in the third act and it really felt as though he needed more to happen before things wrapped up. The other strong character was that of Dallas, and McConaughey was on fire here. He really embraced this role and livened things up whenever he was on screen. The team did what they could with their smaller roles, and well there was a lot of nice eye candy.
The film was nicely handled for the most part, it has lots of Soderbergh touches and he does a good job with it. The script was mostly strong; a few bits let it down and thus this let the film down. It is a mixed bag, but I’d say the good do outweigh the bad. This has some great moments and it is rather witty with a really nice cast.