Release Date: June 11th, 2012
Director: Stephen Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughey
Women are being given a hard turn right now. After the Twi-mum phenomenon, we’re now being sold something packaged in female pleasure media – from 50 Shades of Grey to the newly released Tatum and McConaughey Present Abs and Ass– *Ahem* I mean, Magic Mike.
The trailer is a mash up of topless Tatum and scenes from the male strip show promising lots of eye candy for the female audience to gawk and giggle at. Unfortunately the film fails to deliver.
Magic Mike is about Channing Tatum’s character Mike who has a million jobs (read 3, maybe 4) but really really wants to be a custom furnishings maker. One of his many jobs that isn’t his dream is stripping at Dallas’ (Matthew McConaughey) club, Xquisite. In a chance encounter at another of his jobs, he meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a young 19year old who doesn’t want to wear ties or actually work at anything that isn’t “fun”. After helping to recruit some customers, and when one of the performers passes out, Adam gets a chance to do his own strip which leads to him joining the other 5 strippers. By taking Adam under his wing – and with a little help from Adam’s sister, Brooke (Cody Horn) – Mike is able to look at himself in a new light and reevaluate his life.
The film then jumps between the supposed perks of being part of the stripper group with the parties and excessive female attention and then the ‘moral’ plot around Mike’s concerns and hopes for the future. Yes there’s the actual strip shows but the old adage of the best bits being in the trailer seems to hold firm here as the strip scenes in the trailer are merely shorter versions of what’s in the film. This seems to go against what might have made the film groundbreaking in terms of female pleasure on the screen. I can only guess that the inclusion of a supposed moral plot is to appeal to the ‘chick flick’ lovers in the audience. While a number of chick flicks have limp plots, I’ve yet to find anyone who found this flaccid attempt to explore the ‘real’ Mike to be stimulating or enjoyable while the endless party scenes fall even flatter. I can only guess that they’re to appeal to the few males in the audience since it involves a number of topless women, you know, for equality.
The strip show scenes themselves are suitably cheesy and mostly fill their purpose. Probably could’ve done with some pole dancing but it was amusing enough. What also would’ve been nice would have been if they asked what was sexy for women in terms of sexy dancing. They did a good job for the most part but there’s an over abundance of the performers shoving their junk in the females’ faces – an act that continually made me flinch away.
Mikes dancing – also mostly featured in the trailer – is entertaining but if I wanted to see Tatum dance I would have rented Step Up instead.
While this type of film was never really going to end up on my favourite film list, I had hoped for something better, something that challenged the cinema norm but instead have been left cold and very bored. Just like the already much too popular 50 Shades of Grey, Magic Mike seems to think women are titillated without very much effort. The sad truth is that female pleasure in any media form is so neglected that people will instantly flock to this rare commodity and hold it in high regard. I can only hope the success this film receives will lead to better attempts down the line.
The other main female character, Olivia Munn’s Joanna, delivers perhaps the most poignant line in the film: “you’re not meant to talk, you’re meant to sit and look pretty.”
Perhaps if the film had taken it’s own advice, we would’ve had a better film instead of this unsatisfying flop.