Since Channing Tatum is one of my Hollywood Boyfriends (along with Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender) of course I had to support him by going to see Magic Mike. On opening night. What a chore.
The entire theater was filled with women on Girls Nights Out with their friends, all of us cheering and jeering and laughing. Overall I would say it was a decent movie and a fun experience. And strangely feminist, to boot.
Let’s start with the obvious:
Yes, the men are hot, and the dance numbers are fun. “Sexy” is arguable, though. Because of the strip club setting and the cheesy costumes, I found the routines to be comical more than anything else. Especially in comparison to, say, the routines in the Step Up movies, which are slick, smooth, and technically impressive. To me that is sexy.
In Magic Mike, only Channing is capable of that level of dancing. It’s no coincidence that he got his big break in a dance movie (the first Step Up), nor that it catapulted him into the Hollywood spotlight.
As for plain old sex, there’s some of that too — mostly implied. What I appreciated, actually, was the movie’s casual, comfortable attitude toward the human body. No character was judged for their nudity or their sexual activities — on stage or off. That includes the women. In fact, Olivia Munn’s character is perhaps the most overtly sexual in the whole film, but she is not reduced to the stereotype of a slut, or to the “does it like a dude” mentality. She is neither needy/clingy/weak, nor a bitch. She is simply (as Mike finds out) a real, full person with a strong sexual appetite but also a life outside of the bedroom.
I haven’t seen a lot of Steven Soderbergh’s work, so I don’t know if he always tries this hard, but there were definite “style” choices that seemed to strive to validate this “male stripper movie.” The audio for one scene would start before the video of the previous scene had ended. There were long, yellowy shots of the city. Awkward pauses and stuttering were left in. Sexual activity was sometimes shown upsides or sideways, as if it was too real to be given to us straight.
While I was wary of all this “style” at first, part of me thinks it probably was necessary to balance out the campy strip club stuff, and to prepare the audience for the real story of Magic Mike.
Yes, there is a real story.
It’s simple, but “deep.” Basically it’s about the American dream. About using a means to achieve an end — and then realizing that the means is becoming the end. I thought the way that Mike and the Kid intersected, paralleled, and then polarized was a clever way to illuminate this for both Mike and the audience.
So yeah, women looking for 100% mindless entertainment aren’t going to find it in Magic Mike. The film strikes a pretty good balance between the fun and the serious — but it’s funny how my yearning for those reversed. At first I felt like the story was interfering with the dancing; then I felt like the dancing was interfering with the story. In the end, I was fairly satisfied with the mix.
Fun fact: I went to school with these two hotties! Well, not with them. But I went to the same school a few years later. Carnegie Mellon pride, baby.
Also, I didn’t realize Adam Rodriguez (from CSI: Miami) was in this until the day of. Yum.