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Movie Reviews

Magic Mike




Released: 2012

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey

Certificate: 15

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

Steven Soderbergh.. The directorial chameleon. Whether its the glorious heists with the Oceans, MMA smackdowns with Haywire or delivering a double helping of Del Toro’s Che Guevara, he’s certainly not a figure who is daunted by the prospect of venturing out of his comfort zone. His latest proves such a notion. The trailer for ‘Magic Mike’ promised to titilliate its blatantly targeted demographic with it’s easy on the eyes assembling of Hollywood heartthrobs being laid bare.. Superficial Soderbergh?

Set in the middle of a sun soaked Florida summer, we begin with the main attraction Mike (Channing Tatum). A roof tiler by day, ‘chick magnet’ stripper by night. Consistently prompting he’s an ‘entrepreneur’, it’s soon apparent the tag has worth. Encountering college football dropout Adam played by I Am Number Four’s Alex Pettyfer, they immediately bond and is soon introduced to the ‘glossy’ world of Xquisite.

Helmed by Dallas (Matthew Mcconaughey) who revels in being the superior figure, Alex is soon repackaged as ‘The Kid’ as Dallas attempts to freshen the ‘male stripper’ format and expand the show outside the confines of Tampa. With growing success, Alex’s naivity soon emerges as he becomes intoxicated by the seductive world of easy money and women with his concerned sister (Cody Horn) unimpressed by his antics. In turn, Mike is plagued by the prospect that through immersing himself in such a career.. has the ‘magic’ ever truly been there?

As you would expect with such fare, ‘Magic Mike’ is certainly indulgent with its ‘showpieces’. Its well drilled tactic of ‘tease and please’ proves effective and occasionally hilarious. Women will be whipped into a frenzy. Men will perhaps feel traumatised and ever so slightly emasculated. To Soderbergh’s credit, he does attempt to instill a healthy dose of insight to proceedings.

However, the dramatic delve into more ‘serious and grounded’ territory sits awkwardly in the film’s make up. Whilst admirable in its attempts of social commentary with ‘the youth of today desperately trying to unearth their own identity and find their ‘place’ in the world’, it never quite feels fully fledged.

The film’s strength, lies heavily in the performances. Tatum arguably gives his most well rounded performance to date, exuding charm in abundance whilst being thoroughly engaging. His on screen ‘protege’ Pettyfer is certainly not fazed, more than holding his own but the true showstealer is Mcconaughey. Overwhelmingly charismatic whether it’s barking out orders during the comic brilliance of the choreography sessions or prancing around on stage, this performance could easily be implied as Mcconaughey sending up his own cinematic back catalogue.

‘Magic Mike’ initially may deliver the thrills it’s paying customers anticipated and the talent involved elevate it into a respectable slice of cinema. But in exposing the field’s ‘seedy side,’ Soderbergh veers dangerously close to alienating his core audience.

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