See It, Rent It, Skip It: ‘Magic Mike’

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Magic Mike brings the elusive world of male exotic dancing front and center. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Traffic), the film stars Channing Tatum (The Vow, 21 Jump Street) and is loosely based on his short stint as a stripper when he was 19 years old.

Tatum is Magic Mike, a charismatic playboy who leads a gorgeous group of ripped rebels in burlesque-styled performances at a male strip club in Tampa called Xquisite.

He meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer) while working at a construction site; one of his many miscellaneous jobs. The pair become fast friends. Adam is fascinated by Mike’s world of money, women, and sex and soon finds himself working in the club under the nickname The Kid.

While Adam delves deeper into his new excessive lifestyle, Mike begins to look for a way out of the business.

Under Soderberg’s instruction Magic Mike is more than a bunch of hot men taking their clothes off and getting laid. The story has depth and is very insightful. The cinematography is evocative of independent filmmaking. Soderberg’s choice to shirk Hollywood glamour for an authentic palate is most effective in this cautionary tale. The dialogue is fresh and engaging. The characters have personality and their motivations are clear.

Tatum is truly magical as the veteran stripper. He is mesmerizing on stage, as all of his Step Up fans know, but his acting is what really left me speechless. Tatum is charming, funny, and confident as Mike. There is truthfulness in his performance that we haven’t seen to this degree before. I would venture to say we are witnessing the evolution of a talented actor.

Along with Tatum, Matthew McConaughey is first-rate as Dallas, an ex-stripper and the owner of Xquisite. Middle-aged and still surrounded by the world of exotic dancing, Dallas is a representation of everything that Mike doesn’t want to be.

Although primarily targeted to female audiences, Magic Mike is a tangible tale that all can enjoy. Wonderful direction, strong performances, and a smart screenplay make the film a must SEE. Magic Mike and his all-man-band are in theaters now.

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