Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Olivia Munn, Gabriel Iglesias, Mircea Monroe, Riley Keough, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Betsy Brandt.
Magic Mike is yet another movie from soon to be retiring director Steven Soderbergh who i really admire for the wonderful work that he does. Soderbergh always likes to explore different ways to show the stories he wants us to see, he likes to play with technology and loves the genre exercises. Now when Magic Mike came out, most people were expecting a movie where the hot looking guys would bare it all, it would be a fun and mindless entertainer and we are going to have a great time watching this movie. People who went with that mentality found it quite disappointing because guess what? It looked stylish, every Soderbergh movie does, but it had substance too, like every Soderbergh movie. How can people expect a director like that to show something without any particular motive behind it. Why would you expect Nicolas Winding Refn to make a Fast and Furious movie with Drive? Haven't you all seen Valhalla Rising or Bronson? The way people act in such stupid ways baffles me, they go to a movie expecting something bigger when they should really take a good look first at what they are about to get themselves into. Magic Mike isn't a movie about Male Stripping, its about the Male Strippers. The characters in this movie has different sides to them and its not all about what you see because there is much more underlying the glitz and glamor. We have thirty year old Mike (Tatum) who is this star performer of the Xquisite strip club which is owned by charismatic but self-indulgent Dallas (McConaughey). Mike does some odd jobs like construction and everything while at night, he performs at the strip club. At a point, Mike says that this is what he do but this is not who he is. That should pretty much explain everything about Magic Mike. Mike has some real ambitions in his life, he wants to do something bigger for him. He is looking for a way out now that he spent most of his life just looking for cash. Economics anxiety is what plays the part in this movie and in the life of these characters. When one is simply running towards money just so he can get out one day and have a stable life that he planned.
While that is going on, we have a Nineteen Year old Adam (Pettyfer) who enters the scene. He lives with his sister Brooke (Horn) and needs a proper direction in his life. Adam meets Mike on the construction job they work on and slowly develops a friendship. One thing leads to another and they end up seeing each other outside a popular nightclub, Mike helps Adam get in and there he sees how much of a hit he can be with the sorority girls. Mike introduces Adam to Dallas and other performers at Xquisite and that is the start of Adam's journey into this wonderful looking world of male stripping where girls, money and booze awaits for you. Now interesting how one character awaits for his exit while another looks forward to his entry in this world, at a point Mike was in Adam's place i am sure. Magic Mike looks really easy going, breezy looking and very funny movie at the start. You feel like it will be all fun and good, you'll get to see hot looking guys showing off their bodies, dancing to the songs and ladies cheering. When we enter the second half of the movie, that is when it starts getting a bit darker and edgier. That is when reality comes into play, many characters makes the wrong choices concerning with economics. Adam eventually gets involved in much dangerous side of it just because it will give him large amount of cash. Mike tries to get loan but is denied, later an incident involving Adam leaves him literally with no money. Mike tries to have a relationship with his on-again, off-again lover Joanna who doesn't wants to get serious with him. While Mike slowly develops feelings for Brooke but it doesn't comes off that way because they both have different lives and they don't seem like they are interested in each other. Brooke starts realizing that one day but she still continues her relation with a boyfriend that she has who also appears to be quite rich.
Soderbergh's sensitive direction, the naturalistic style of the movie and the performances from its cast makes Magic Mike a wonderful movie. Channing Tatum gives a very convincing and really nice performance. The movie was part inspired by his experience as a stripper back in days. He improvised the script and dialogues and that seems to work quite effectively here since he appears to play a character that he seems to be fully engrossed in and as well as comfortable and fully convinced with himself. The scene stealer in this movie however is not Tatum but Matthew McConaughey. That man gives a memorable supporting performance in a role that is likely to convince many people how wonderfully talented he is and how much he needs to be working in these kind of movies rather than the particular genre he is largely known for. His performance is very cartoonish, the way he talks about how to seduce a lady with performing a certain way to what he wants this club to become one day, is largely charismatic talk thanks to him. He has been wonderful in every movie that he did this year but here, it is one of his best performances that recalls the likes of his performance in Dazed and Confused but rise above the usual "Master of Ceremonies" type of performance. Also Alex Pettyfer and Cody Horn gives some nice performances too. I really liked the choreography of those dancing and stripping sequences, also nice choice of the music. The way Soderbergh films them is quite unique. Those sequences are filmed in wide shots without much editing giving them quite a realistic and appropriate feel. The dance numbers are not erotic as one might expect, they presents us with the physical, athletic side of the men performing without going in a very weird area. This is their job, they have to dance and entertain the female audience with their charm, looks and persona, they should appeal to them without literally selling their bodies. The story in some ways might sound familiar to you, yet Soderbergh finds a way to make it more modern, less conventional, more raw and less lazy. Perfectly edited movie, though there are some plot points that aren't resolved in the movie since Soderbergh isn't interested in all that. We have seen many movies that does those things, we are in the end presented with a clear picture of where the life of these particular characters are heading. But here, Soderbergh tries to explore the space in between the things.
Yet with all the serious things i said about this movie, it is also somewhat a guilty pleasure movie for the brainier moviegoers. Looking at these men perform wearing thongs, the audience screaming at them, one can't help but think about the escapism we need in our life. You don't necessarily do things in your life for the pleasure, you do most of the things because you have to or else you wont get to have the pleasure one desires for. The hopelessness of this generation that developed with the financial downfall or the fact that they don't really get to dream with the limited opportunities as shown in this movie in many scenes particularly the one where Mike drives away in his car, leaves us feeling heartbroken. Magic Mike is one of the better movies of the year, with all the fun it seems to be having on the surface, there is a harsher reality that lurks beneath it.