MAGIC MIKE


There is a wonderful, improvisational quality to the delivery of the dialog in the new Channing Tatum vehicle, Magic Mike.   It feels well rehearsed and made up on the spot at the same time and is probably the best thing about this somewhat familiar cautionary tale about the dangers of male stripping (though this virtue is very quickly overshadowed by the pulchritudinous displays by most of the central characters).  Tatum plays the title role Mike, a role tailored made for him, which makes sense since it’s based on an episode in his life when he was but a wee lad in a g-string.  Mike is an entrepreneur with his fingers in a few too many…enterprises (you thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?), hoping to finally be able to devote his time to his true love—custom made furniture.  But oft laid plans of mice and men, etc., etc.  The morality is Christian by way of Cecil B. DeMille.  It comes down heavily against sex, drugs and rock and roll, but before it does, it makes sure we experience plenty of it (probably so that we’ll know it when we see it and will, thereby, be able to avoid it) until our dancing fool of a hero has his road to Damascus conversion.   It’s a fun and entertaining movie if you don’t take it too seriously.   The director Steven Soderbergh and writer Reid Carolin does plenty of that for us so we don’t have to bother.  The women in the strip club audience may go wild over the performers, but there’s no joy in the dancers themselves who go through their routines with blank, bland faces.  And there’s no joy in the leathery skin of the exploitive club’s manager played with his usual over the top gusto by Mathew McConaughey.  Even the scenery is downbeat.  It’s the dog days of summer, but whenever anyone goes outside it looks as if it’s about to rain.  Soderbergh, doubling as cinematographer, has made sure to film everything with a storm is brewing overcast (metaphor much?).   Soderbergh may be the Michael Curtiz of our time.  He isn’t be a great director, but he knows how to get the job done.  And he delivers.  As does Tatum.   This is perhaps his best performance since A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints; it really caters to his strength, a Mark Wahlburg type underplaying.  And he’s a wonderful dancer.   See the movie, leave the singles at home.

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