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Magic Mike - Review

Magic Mike

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

A FILM about male strippers may sound like a turn off to about 50% of a potential audience but think again: Steven Soderbergh’s film, inspired by leading man Channing Tatum’s own experiences, is a picture that everyone can enjoy.

Magic Mike has the Soderbergh touch. It’s stylish, it’s sexy and it’s fun in the same kind of way that the director’s Ocean’s 11 was. And it also has a dark undercurrent running through it, which lends the film a belated extra edge.

Tatum stars as the Magic Mike of the title, a 30-year-old entrepeneur with his fingers in several pies, whose biggest source of income is the money he earns from stripping four times a week at a Tampa club run by an ex-stripper and friend named Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).

When Mike decides to take the struggling 19-year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing he also begins a relationship with Alex’s sister, Brooke (Cody Horn) and starts to realise that he may be seeking something more from life that his current situation allows.

Adam, on the other hand, becomes instantly seduced by the rush of stripping and threatens to spiral out of control, while Dallas has his heart set on expanding his club to the cash-cow that is Miami.

Magic Mike may be inspired by Tatum’s time spent as a stripper while 18 and 19 but the story is fictional. It is, however, hugely enjoyable with nicely developed characters providing audiences with a set of characters who are genuinely worth investing time in.

Tatum brings an easy-going charm to his Mike, Pettyfer delivers arguably his best performance to date as Adam and McConaughey is a riot as the ‘out there’ Dallas. Horn, meanwhile, brings both innocence and festiness to her role as Adam’s protective sister, whose own misgivings about Mike’s profession threaten to block any potential for romance.

Soderbergh, too, deserves credit for making the film look fantastic, while keeping things moving at a brisk pace and never coming over too cheesy, either during the stripping sequences themselves (which are superbly choreographed to seem sexy and outlandish) or the last act turn into the more serious.

For while there’s an inevitability to the final moments, it’s handled in such a fashion so as not to feel forced or contrived. While the payoff is bittersweet in the way that only the best directors know how.

Put together, Magic Mike pulls off a pretty neat trick in giving audiences of both sexes a supremely enjoyable ride with a little more substance than perhaps they had been anticipating. It’s highly recommended fun.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 110mins
UK Release Date: July 11, 2012