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Magic Mike Review

You know the quiet guy in the class? Seemingly average and mundane, but inside he's a whole other beast? That's Magic Mike. On the surface it is one thing, but like our mothers told us: never judge a book by its cover. Adam (Alex Pettyfer) is a 19-year-old college dropout crashing his sister Brooke's (Cody Horn) couch after having lost a football scholarship. Unemployed and with no prospects, he takes a job working construction, where he crosses paths with Michael Lane (Channing Tatum), known as "Magic Mike" to his fans. Shortly after, Mike enlists Adam to recruit new customers to Xquisite, a male strip club where Mike has performed for six years run by a man named Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). Originally hired to help run props, Adam is eventually thrown on stage to dance, which leads him down the hyper and lucrative road of stripping. Let's get the obvious out of the way: yes, there are a ton of ass shots in this one. If you can't handle it, "Mike" isn't the show for you. But given the asses on display, why wouldn't you want to? Gay or straight, it doesn't matter — you have to appreciate a gorgeous ass. Looks aside, "Mike" is surprisingly well-polished from a storytelling aspect. Setting itself up as a three-act play (taking place in June, July and August), it's as much Mike's story as it is Adam's, and maybe more so (seeing as the movie is named after him). Reminiscent of Boogie Nights in more than one way, the theme of the young up-and-comer (Adam) and the disillusioned pro (Mike) is nothing we haven't seen before, but Reid Carolin's humorous script feels like it could've been improvised at several points. Despite the sexual nature of the core cast's job, the characters never feel fake. The success of the film is largely thanks to Tatum's performance, which balances the dreamer, the entrepreneur, the mentor, the best friend, the sex god and the good guy role all into one. Given how Tatum has a past of male stripping in reality, it couldn't be a stretch for him to imagine what went on in Mike's head, but that doesn't make him any less likeable or authentic. We never delve too deep into his past but we know one is there thanks to Tatum's twitches and looks. Like Mike, we're looking to the future and he's a relateable and likeable character to latch onto as a result. He's got skills (damn, can he dance) and his heart is in the right place. Despite it being Tatum's show, McConaughey seems to have found the role he was born to play. Dallas is a man who sees himself as a god amongst mortals. Part sleeze, part goofball and all about (his) business, Dallas eats, breathes and lives stripping. You've got to give McConaughey credit for taking a role that could've been pure camp and breathing his own form of life into it. There's one scene in particular where Dallas teaches Adam how to gyrate (in the gym), showing just how committed everyone is to giving the movie as much a sense of authenticity as comedy. And in that, we find what makes Magic Mike work. It can laugh at itself as much as it can feel. It can take something as unreal and staged as stripping and give it a sense of humanity and even community. It also might be Soderbergh's most accessible film to date, even with his longer, sometimes rambling shots still present. The supporting cast might not get a lot of love or lines, but it helps that Tatum and Pettyfer's story is easy to watch without feeling dumbed down. Combined with some sharp humor, Magic Mike may not be the movie of your dreams this summer, but it is far from a nightmare.


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