Film Review: 17 August
Magic Mike proves there’s (a bit) more to male strippers than meets the eye
This is surely what they call a 'woman's picture'. I make that judgement based on the audience with which I saw it. There were only two men in the cinema. The women ignored us both, no doubt assuming that we must be gay – otherwise why would we be there? – and therefore neither dangerous nor interesting.
At this point and for the benefit of the uninitiated, I should point out that Magic Mike is a traditional backstage movie dealing with the sometimes comic, sometimes seedy, world of male strippers and presenting a cornucopia of young masculine flesh, all six-packs, rippling abs and pecs and taut, naked buttocks.
Feast your eyes, ladies. Or maybe not, because just beneath the surface, Steven Soderbergh's well-made film raises the question of whether stripping for the benefit of excited housewives and sorority sisters is really a proper job for a grown man, especially as the strippers' pay consists largely of dollar bills thrust down their thongs by aroused women.
The eponymous protagonist (Channing Tatum) is beginning to doubt it. He's a 30-year-old casual labourer who, several nights a week, under the stage name of Magic Mike, is the star attraction at Xquisite, a Tampa strip club run by the charismatic Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).
One day, while working on a building site, Mike meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a 19-year-old college dropout, who can't get a decent job because, on principle, he refuses to wear a tie, even for interviews.
That night they bump into each other again and Mike takes Adam to Xquisite where – one of the dancers being too drunk or too stoned to perform – the kid is thrust on stage and to the tune of Like A Virgin, does a clumsy strip.
The audience loves it; so does Adam, his jockey shorts stuffed with money. He's immediately hooked on stripping.
Significantly, Mike now meets Adam's sister Brooke (Cody Horn), a medical assistant, and there is mutual attraction, though she disapproves of the way he and her brother earn their living.
However, as if to prove that there is more to a male stripper than just a bulging jockstrap, Mike wants to start a furniture business but, because he deals only in cash, has no credit rating and can't get a bank loan. The only thing that keeps him in his present line of work is McConaughey's promise to give him a share in a new, bigger club he's planning to open in Miami.
So the questions are: will Mike move to Miami or continue with the furniture-making ambition? And where would Brooke fi t in? It's an engaging yarn in which nothing very dramatic happens (though a darker note intrudes when Adam gets involved in a drug deal that goes wrong) and has some sharp comments to make on America in this age of recession.
The ever-improving McConaughey is sadly underused but the performances throughout are excellent and the women in the cinema certainly enjoyed it immensely. I don't know what the other bloke thought, though.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"NEW clothes are the most wonderful tonic in the world. The meekest of women going out for the first time in her new hat and suit will achieve a feeling of jauntiness which comes from her deep inner satisfaction."The Lady. Keep Joy In Your Clothes. 18th January, 1934