What’s your first thought of exotic dancer movies? If the word sleazy entered your head, you’re with the 99 percent. Magic Mike has all of the ingredients you’d expect from this type of film; sex, drugs, girls. Except this time it’s a fun affair, where women ogle men for a change. Oh yes, the strippers are men.
And very attractive ones too. Starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer and Olivia Munn, Magic Mike is unique in the sense that it’s targeted towards a female audience. We think of stripper movies as male titillation, often with demeaning story lines about poor girls in search of a rescue, dancing to pay off debts and feed addictions.
Magic Mike by contrast, almost seems like a loving tribute to the profession. And it’s certainly dragging the females into the theatres, judging by the screening I attended.
Male stripper Mike (Tatum) has an enviable life: parties, women, easy money. He’s at the top of his game and loving life. When he meets young Adam (Pettyfer), and introduces him to his boss Dallas (McConaughey), he’s happy to teach him the ropes in exotic dancing. However cracks begin to form in both Mike’s day and night lives, as his entrepreneurial ventures take dips and his attempts to pursue Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn) prove ineffective.
Magic Mike is at its core, a comedic drama, with cheeky dialogue, fun dance numbers, and a lot of bravado. But now I think about it, that seems to be the difference between movies centred on men and women in this genre. Take British 90s comedy The Full Monty as an example. No, the men are not professional strippers like in Magic Mike, but they approach the subject from the same viewpoint. When men strip it’s fun, when women do it’s sleazy.
I wouldn’t say Magic Mike is a particularly favourable advert for potential male exotic dancers per say. On the contrary, there are darker tones that justify its place in the genre. However it’s made in such a way that it in no way judges those in the profession, a stance that is actually quite unusual, and was no doubt orchestrated by star Channing Tatum.
Before the actor’s movie career took off in the likes of Step Up and Coach Carter, he worked as a male exotic dancer. So if anyone in the cast knew what they were doing and were instrumental in the films metamorphosis, it’s him.
That said, he wasn’t the entire focus. I have to give major props to the other male actors who portrayed the rest of the strippers. From Matt Bomer to Adam Rodriguez, going through the Magic Mike Exotic Dancing Crash Course must have been an embarrassing experience. They all did remarkably well though. It’s amazing what a show face and a little guidance can achieve.
Matthew McConaughey in particular seems right at home as Dallas, the owner/MC of the club, and seemed to relish the opportunity. It’s like the role of the sleazy, stripping business owner was made for him. Meanwhile Pettyfer portrays the transition from awkward newbie to cocky veteran with ease.
It was very easy for me to forget these actors aren’t actually strippers and be swept away in the spectacle of the shows. And that’s a real credit to the actors and choreographers. The routines were slick, fun and the right amount of tantalizing, without coming across as vulgar. The nudity throughout the film is even reasonable. The BBFC thinks it’s tame enough for a 15-year-old to see here in the UK.
I only really have two complaints about the movie. First off, the casting of Adam’s older sister Brooke was a mistake. Cody Horn‘s performance was bland and unlikeable, to the point it became distracting. When put next to Tatum, who has an easy charisma about him, her character’s lack of personality was all the more noticeable.
I was also confused by how abrupt the ending was. It was a fitting end point, don’t get me wrong, but there are strands of plot that I felt needed typing up beforehand, especially in terms of Pettyfer’s character.
It’s a decent movie though. Without the dance sequences it might have been a little bland, but fans of the male physique will enjoy the spectacle, and I can guarantee you won’t be bored. You may even find yourself taking notes.
Magic Mike is out on DVD now!