Mike Lane is a thirty-year old living in Tampa,Florida. By day he works as a roofer while at night, as Magic Mike, he is the star attraction of the Kings of Tampa, a group of male strippers. Secretly he wants out in order to further a projected furniture-making business but his credit rating precludes a bank loan for this despite his considerable savings. One night Adam, a teen-aged work-mate of Mike, follows him to the club and, when one of the acts is unable to go on,he is prevailed upon to strip - becoming a huge hit. However success goes to his head and his foolish actions not only threaten to jeopardize his sister Brooke's relationship with Mike but Mike's ambitions as well. Written by
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The usherette tittered when I bought my ticket. 'Why do you laugh?' I asked. 'Because only girls are watching this'. Clearly this is someone who doesn't believe in the universality of cinema. Yes, Steven Soderbergh's latest features male strippers, and yes it will appeal more to a certain demographic, but so will every film. Audiences may be disparate but films are androgynous. Or should be.
As 'Magic' Mike, charming Channing Tatum naturally gets top billing, but the film revolves around Adam (rising star Alex Pettyfer). Adam is a congenital loser, the kind of guy who refuses to wear a tie and wonders why he can't sustain a job. He lives with his sister, Brooke (Cody Horn), whose acting conveys a suspicion of men, presumably because she has only her wayward brother as a yardstick.
Adam finds work on a construction site with Mike, who sees the desperation of Adam's situation and entices him to join his exotic dancing troupe, Xquisite, led by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). Dallas astutely exploits Adam's naivety by branding him 'The Kid', an amateurish, sloppy act, which the ladies love. The next three months are a non-stop orgy of girls, booze and drugs: everything a man like Adam could wish for.
This lifestyle has lost its appeal for Mike, now 30, who only took up professional undressing to become a bespoke furniture salesman. He no longer wishes to hold out for the phantom 10% of the business Dallas keeps promising him, but poor credit keeps him on the pole. (Tatum again stars in a role which brings out his effortless charisma and sweetness.)
McConaughey recently impressed me in William Friedkin's 'Killer Joe', and now this film has completely changed my mind about him. He's gone from my dud to my stud list in just two films. And Pettyfer works because he doesn't work, if you see what I mean. Although an ex-model, he's not 'stripper material' (not that I'd know much about that sort of thing), yet there's a naturalness to his acting, which works.
Although not in the same league as some of Soderbergh's other titles (notably 'Traffic' and 'Out of Sight'), there's enough going on to warrant a viewing. Characters are well written, lives intersect in an unforced manner, motivations are believable. There's plenty of saucy (and quite impressive) dancing to keep the majority of this film's audience happy, but there's also a decent story for those who aren't watching exclusively for nudity.
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