★ ★ ★
Starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn and Cody Horn. Written by Reid Carolin. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Produced by Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum and Nick Weschler
There's no doubt Magic Mike satisfies the expectations of all the women who are dying to see it – not five minutes go by before you're bombarded with gratuitous close ups of sculpted, pelvis-thrusting men on stage. It's flashy, it's fun and the bottom line is it just doesn't have the capacity to be taken as seriously as it so badly desires during the latter part of the film. While it has potential to be a truly insightful story, it's neither gritty nor dark enough to pull off the same raw portrayal as a film like Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, which also deals with the not-so-glamorous side of show business. Basically, the film can't decide whether it wants to glorify the profession or offer the ugly truth behind it – it's difficult to evoke any uncomfortable feelings from an audience that's constantly having to witness cool choreographed routines and sensational party scenes.
The writing is ultimately to blame, having little to no direction or consistency. Initially, it intrigues when Adam (Pettyfer) is dragged into the unconventional profession by Mike (Tatum) and eventually disappoints when no struggle is developed and no real truth is revealed. And while Mike is animated and charming, there comes a point when he takes himself too seriously – and that point is when the focus of the film is shifted from Adam's struggle to his. Every potentially interesting component of the film is stunted by its gradually-acquired, overly serious tone, and its violation of the age-old rule to show and not tell. Had Mike's self righteous speeches been replaced with more scenes showcasing his turmoil, the film would've been far more effective.
And while Magic Mike's strength lies in its colorful cast's ability to make an outlandish profession relatable to those who can only imagine, Dallas (McConoughey) is just about the only character who doesn't eventually lose his punch. Mike becomes a concoction of almost every cliche and Adam is simply underdeveloped, coming off as blank. So what's left is a film that desperately wants to be edgy, but can't because of its formulaic structure and inability to avoid the genre's cliches.