Some of the most interesting movies are the ones that simply follow characters at their places of work. Male stripping is an especially interesting profession for a movie to explore. “Magic Mike” looked like it might tell the definitive male stripper story just as “Boogie Nights” told the ultimate tale of the porn business. Sadly, “Magic Mike” doesn’t say anything very fascinating about the day-to-day lives of strippers. In addition to offering no new incite regarding this occupation, the film features no interesting characters for the audience to engage with. The end result is an unfortunate missed opportunity.
The story, for what it is, focuses on a 19-year-old named Adam, played by Alex Pettyfer. The slacker Adam is reluctant to take on any job that requires him to wear a tie. After meeting a Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike, Adam is introduced to a job that doesn’t require a tie.
It doesn’t even require him to wear a pair of pants.
Adam is flung into the world of male stripping where he finds his natural calling. Along the way, Magic Mike acts as his friend and mentor.
Based on his work in “The Vow,” “Dear John,” and “Step Up,” Tatum has proven that he may never have great range as an actor. Through movies like “21 Jump Street” though, Tatum has established that he can be a very fun performer to watch with good material.
Here he’s just OK as Magic Mike who wishes to leave the stripping business to find better work. He additionally has some nice scenes with Cody Horn as Adam’s sister, who is sincerely concerned about her brother’s future.
When the characters stop to share an honest conversation, “Magic Mike” can be an effective picture. These moments are scarce and spread out though, often taking a back seat to the endless stripping montages. Obviously a lot of stripping is going to come with the territory of a movie like this.
But in the midst of all the extended stripping sequences, the filmmakers forgot to create motivating characters, genuine conflict, and truly explore this subculture. Thus, the film plays out like “Showgirls” with men, only with less nudity and a little more taste.
Steven Soderbergh, who has unarguably made some great movies such as “Traffic” and “Erin Brockovich, directed “Magic Mike.” One would think that Soderbergh could pull off something really unique with this sort of premise. Soderbergh’s talents feel misplaced, however, in a film that isn’t very funny, provocative or insightful.
The most enjoyable aspect of “Magic Mike” is Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, the owner/host of the strip club where Adam and Mike work.
There are two things you can always count on McConaughey doing in all of his movies. He will at some point take off his shirt and in another instance say “alright, alright.” Here, that’s pretty much all he does. I guess that makes “Magic Mike” the fundamental movie to see if you want to play the Matthew McConaughey drinking game.
• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.