Stripping for Tantalizing Tampa

MAGIC MIKE

This ain’t the village people

Before anyone reads this review, there is a confession to be made… I am a huge Steven Soderbergh fan!

As a film director he can do little wrong. Who else could turn a seemingly sordid tale of male stripping in Southern Florida into a thought-provoking work of decent cinema despite the subject matter? Steven Soderbergh can and it appears he has found his new muse in rising star, dancer turned actor Channing Tatum, in which this story of struggling male stripper turned actor is apparently based on. Magic Mike is far from amusing but tantalizing, provocative and superbly directed.

Soderbergh does for the almost closeted world of male stripping what Darren Aronofsky did for Wrestling and Ballet in his acclaimed films, The Wrestler and Black Swan. After all Soderbergh directed the Oscar winning multitextured portrayal of drug running on the US-Mexican border in Traffic and made a social political thriller in 2011’s excellent film Contagion.

With brilliant direction and solid performances by Channing Tatum in the title role along with Alex Pettyfer as novice young stripper Adam, along with Cody Horn as Adam’s responsible and disapproving sister Brooke and a charismatic and memorable performance by Matthew McConnaughey as sleazy and vain nightclub owner Dallas, Magic Mike follows the trials and stripteases of Mike and Adam in the raunchy and drugfuelled world of male stripping where the cash is easy but the credibility is often unattainable.

Magic Mike is no comedy and although there are loads of hot male bodies, both butts and torsos for female viewers to titiliate over, the film brilliantly overshadows the British comedy on the same subject The Full Monty in both flesh and substance. Its a sort of indictment of how far ordinary people will go to survive in an economically constrained era whilst also highlighting the pitfalls of being drawn into a morally dubious and nefarious glitzy world of strip clubs which is both addictive and difficult to escape from without one’s dignity completely unscathed.

Soderbergh does not sugar coat the world of male stripping nor glamorize its virtues for ultimately the cheap thrills that women receive always takes an emotional toll on the men being objectified. Stripping whether by men or women is ultimately always about sexual objectification and erotic tantalization with the ever elusive promise of forbidden fulfillment. Magic Mike has some light moments and lots of great eye-candy, but the film’s success belongs to Soderbergh’s expert direction and two surprisingly well balanced performances by Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer. Well worth the cinematic experience and not just for the gorgeous male cast! There is dancing too! Besides the film’s tagline says everything Work all Day, Work it all Night!

 

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