There’s no denying that Magic Mike is the 50 Shades of Grey of summer movies. This weekend, people everywhere flocked to theaters for the excuse to watch the naked gyrations of steamy men like Channing Tatum (The Vow), Matt Bomer (White Collar), Alex Pettyfer (Beastly), Matthew McConaughey (We Are Marshall) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood). The talented exotic dancing quickly overshadows the shallow plot pretense, but if we’re being honest, few moviegoers want to see Magic Mike for inspirational, against-all-odds triumph.
“Magic” Mike is a male stripper with a heart of gold: He has big dreams of designing furniture but lacks adequate financial resources. Six years before the film’s beginning, Dallas (McConaughey), owner of Xquisite Male Dance Revue, personally selected Mike to grace his stage. Mike uses his business savvy to work his way up the chain of command and helps Dallas with potential expansions from Tampa to Miami.
Magic Mike is inspired by Tatum’s real-life experience as a young stripper in Florida before he broke into showbiz. His rookie days are reflected in 19-year-old Adam “The Kid” (Alex Pettyfer), who is recruited by Mike for Xquisite. Adam’s reluctant older sister Paige (Cody Horn) is charmed by Mike — who can blame her — but she continues to keep her brother’s best interests at the forefront.
The concurrent plotlines of Mike’s business aspirations, Mike’s love life and Adam’s transition into stripping remain underdeveloped, which left me a bit bewildered when the credits started rolling. None of the various conflicts are resolved before the film’s awkwardly abrupt ending which is especially puzzling considering that Magic Mike is almost two hours long. That should be plenty of time to resolve a rather simplistic film.
But let’s be honest about why moviegoers are seeing Magic Mike.
Though viewers gain access to Mike’s emotional depth, among other things — the audience is treated to an ample view of his backside a few minutes into the film — he truly shines on stage. Tatum’s acting chops have evolved as his film roles and star power have increased, but one thing has never changed since his breakout role in Step Up: His amazing dance moves. Yes, Mike is almost totally naked while he dances, but that just adds to the effect. Tatum clearly relishes this role, which makes it even more enjoyable to watch.
As club owner Dallas, McConaughey gets the opportunity to fulfill what I assume is his dream role: a raunchy, sweaty, frequently topless ladies’ man. Dallas’ wardrobe staple is a pair of tight black leather pants with conveniently removable butt flaps.
The rest of the crew is just as buff and baby-oiled as Mike, which made for constant catcalls and sighs from the mostly female audience. The men perform both as a group and individually, so each stripper gets his chance to blow away viewers. With names like Big Dick Richie (Manganiello) and Tarzan (WWE’s Kevin Nash), the strippers turn both the club and film audience members into primal beings. Make sure to check your dignity at the door, because it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually in the strip club with them.
As I entered the theater, I was given party beads and told, “Welcome to the bachelorette party!” I maintained that excited mentality as I watched Magic Mike and recommend viewers go in with the same fun attitude. If you’re looking for quality exotic entertainment, this is the movie for you. If you’re looking for intrigue or a sophisticated structure, this probably isn’t your best bet. Take Magic Mike at face value and you will be utterly satisfied. At two hours, the film is a bit long, but then again, so is Big Dick Richie.