Written by: Victoria Alexander
Horrible. No story, overt homoeroticism, and the death-knell for McConaughey. Is this the same director who did the fabulous HAYWIRE?
I live in Las Vegas now, where male dance revues are common. For the preview of MAGIC MIKE, five dancers from Thunder Down Under (at Excalibur Hotel and Casino) performed. They did two dance numbers and took off their shirts. Another five TDU dancers were in the audience and handed out stuff to the screaming ladies. When the movie finally started, the first five minutes were without sound. The second time it started the first five minutes were without sound. The third time it was fixed.
Is MAGIC MIKE an unfunny comedy?
Mike (Tatum) is a self-deluded entrepreneur who works as a roof tiler, has a car detailing business and makes furniture from junk. We never see him doing any of these jobs. Where is his carpenter’s shed? He has a huge 2-story house in Florida but his income really comes from headlining at a male strip club called Xquisite owned and run by Dallas (Mathew McConaughey). I cringed every time Dallas showed up. Dallas is Xquisite’s host and he thinks his job is seducing women with his “don’t touch me-touch me” spiel and exaggerated sex moves, but he spends every minute he can touching the other male dancers. He doesn’t talk to a guy unless his nose is touching theirs and their bodies are in an embrace.
McConaughey set the tone for MAGIC MIKE. This is certainly not a warts-and-all story on male strippers.
Dallas shepherded Mike into the business and made him the headliner, but the perks of his job are 3-ways with occasional booty-call Joanna (Olivia Munn), who really enjoys girls. Joanna is going places and Mike is her jump-off.
The other male dancers are cute Ken (Matt Bomer), too-old Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Latin Tito (Adam Rodriguez), and Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello). Regardless of the MAGIC MIKE publicity train, one hardly sees these guys are work. It’s all about Mike.
And he can dance and shake like a champion. I was impressed.
Now if Mike and Dallas had their finger on the pulse of their target audience, the show would have been each dancer playing an aspect of Christian Grey instead of the hackneyed firemen and cowboy routines. Erotic entertainment, not cheesy histronics. Just saying…
Mike decides to mentor homeless 19-year old Adam (Alex Pettyfer). Living on his disapproving sister’s sofa, Adam is thrust onstage by Mike as his stripper initiation. Flush with dollar bills, Adam, now anointed “The Kid”, is shown the house moves by Dallas. Next up, showering together?
McConaughey really lets his freak flag fly.
After being schooled by Dallas, Mike takes him shopping for the accoutrements of the profession. Caught shaving his legs by his sister Brooke (Cody Horn), he is forced to tell her about his new money-making job.
Brooke is a tight-lipped, angry character. Mike starts falling for Brooke, since she is appalled by whorish lifestyle and judgmental. Mike has mommy issues. Instead of being thankful Adam is making rent money and can buy a car, she’s standoffish with the morals of Mother Teresa.
Oh, but where is the drama and who is MAGIC MIKE’S villain? When a sorority party goes horribly wrong, Mike and Adam flee the scene without Adam’s bag containing $1,000 worth of ecstasy. He partnered with the club’s DJ Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias). Now, the men behind the deal want their profit. Don’t you hate when that happens?
Tatum gets to show his sensitive side and I really liked how director Steven Soderbergh has the characters speak to each other. Dialogue is choppy, characters fumble with what they say and speak over each other. Soderbergh has captured real life conversations.
Newcomer Riley Keough as Nora is a standout. The movie has that standard Hollywood ending but the penultimate scene trumps all the previous grinding and butt shaking. Dallas upstages all his performers by taking to the stage like Nero on acid and ends his performance sprawled out on the stage’s runway with his ass in the air being touched by screaming women.
What I really want from Soderbergh is HAYWIRE 2.
Victoria Alexander is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org/ and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria’s weekly column, “The Devil’s Hammer,” is posted every Monday. http://www.fromthebalcony.com/editorials.php.
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