Magic Mike is, at its core, the story of a male stripper/entrepreneur (Tatum) who dreams of making his dollar bills by producing custom furniture instead of selling his body. One day at his roofing gig he meets Adam (Pettyfer), a 19 year-old fuck-up who blew his football scholarship and is now crashing on his sister’s Brooke’s (Cody Horn) couch. Mike, being the brotherly type, takes Adam under his wing and introduces him to his other place of business, Xquisite, where he’s Magic Mike and one member of the “Cock-Rocking Kings of Tampa.”
Adam quickly becomes one of the group and a rising star in the eyes of Dallas (McConaughey), the kinda sleazy owner of the club who dreams of taking his male revue to the big city of Miami. Of course, Adam’s sister struggles to approve of his new gig but finds time to flirt with Mike in the process, and Adam slowly devolves into the darker world of ecstasy pushing and constant partying.
While Magic Mike doesn’t have a revolutionary plot, the movie succeeds on several components. The biggest one of all is, by and large, Channing Tatum himself. While some of the plot is allegedly ripped from Tatum’s own stripper days, Tatum is almost downright magnetic here. With his recent comedic turn in 21 Jump Street, Tatum is becoming quite the leading man. He’s quietly funny without being showy, he’s mesmerizing when he dances (oh, Step Up, how I miss thee), and he just oozes charm. His scenes with the rest of his stripper comrades also border on the incredibly bro-y with more male bonding than Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11.
Many people are lauding McConaughey’s go-for-broke performance as the douchey nightclub owner, and while he does steal several scenes, I couldn’t help but feel like it was just a grosser, more adult version of his Dazed and Confused character and an extreme caricature of his own personality. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed watching him shed off his rom-com image and just go for it.
Also, Soderbergh’s voyeuristic camera and the dialogue’s almost improvisational feel really lend an air of reality and a sense that we’re peaking into this world and culture. Magic Mike may be about male strippers, and that may get the ladies into the seats, but the movie is surprisingly fascinating and a far cry from the film the trailers are promoting.
-- Darcie Duttweiler