‘Magic Mike’ is a movie publicist’s dream. Featuring a plethora of Hollywood hunks portraying strippers, the posters showing their semi-naked torsos are a licence for free advertising. There’s plenty of flesh exposed although take away this superficial veneer and it becomes more than a lurid peep-show. Directed by skilled film-maker Steven Soderbergh its tale of opportunity and redemption peels away the emotional as well as physical layers binding the main players.
Working in a construction company, Adam (Alex Pettyfer) meets Mike (Channing Tatum). Becoming friends, their lives soon take an interesting turn. Discovering Mike is a stripper called ‘Magic Mike’, Adam is shocked when asked to join his show. Working alongside others including Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) and Ken (Matt Bomer), Adam’s eyes sees a future of fame and fortune. Such notions have a price – something he discovers along his journey in adult entertainment.
Backed by a solid cast and engaging script ‘Magic Mike’ succeeds due to its approach. Filmed in documentary style, this gritty flavour conveys the rough reality the group of fantasy makers live. Their constant quest for dollars and physical perfection impacts their lives in various ways. Mike especially feels the need for emotional escape with Tatum playing the sympathetic lead well.
He more than matches his co-stars in the dance sequences. Even during these scenes the almost mechanical nature of the routines strips away any genuine eroticism. Maybe this was Soderbergh’s point as the group’s ‘going through the motions’ mentality reveals a deeper vacuum in which they exist. Some may thrill at the physical prowess herein although the quality of the drama proves to be ‘Magic Mike’s greatest asset.
Unlike similar movies the shedding of clothes doesn’t equal the shedding of intelligence. Thoughtful and engaging it reveals a different side to an industry many talk about but never admit to seeing.
Rating out of 10: 8