Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Magic Mike"

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Let me begin by saying that I wasn't a huge Channing Tatum fan going into this movie. In fact, the only things I'd ever seen him in up to that point were 21 Jump Street and an old episode of CSI: Miami (although I didn't know it was him at the time). However, the trailers that prominently featured his perfectly sculpted abs were enough to convince me that this was a movie I could not miss.

I've gone to movies by myself before and I have no problem doing so, but I felt this experience would be best shared. I brought my mom and long-time best friend with me to the theater. The place was incredibly crowded for a Sunday afternoon matinee. Not surprisingly, the audience was almost entirely female. My best friend and I counted a total of 4 guys. There didn't seem to be one single target demographic for the fairer sex; I saw girls that were definitely too young to be at an R-rated movie all the way up to little old ladies.

The movie follows the life of Mike (Channing Tatum), a male stripper in Tampa, Florida. His dream is to own his own business designing and building custom furniture, but he can't get a start-up loan because he has no credit. In an effort to make his dream come true by earning the cash to get the business off the ground himself, Mike has several day jobs, including one as a roofer. One day on a roofing site, he meets a new worker named Adam (Alex Pettyfer).

Adam ends up being fired on his first day because he took an extra Pepsi from the cooler at the job site. Mike gives him a ride home. He feels bad about the guy losing his job, so he decides to take Adam out and show him a good time. He has to sneak Adam into the nightclub since Adam is only 19. Once inside, they run into a group of sorority girls, one of whom is celebrating her 21st birthday; they think Adam is just adorable. Mike slips the girls a promo flyer for the Xquisite male dance revue and invites them to attend that night's performance. He promises them that Adam will be there.

Mike takes Adam over to Xquisite, which is run by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). When Dallas finds out Adam is under 21, he initially wants him out of the place for fear of losing his liquor license (and therefore his business). Mike says they can just stick Adam backstage, let him run props for the night, and give him a cut of their tips. One thing leads to another and Adam actually ends up stripping onstage under the name "The Kid." At first, he's desperately uncomfortable. He quickly changes his mind at the end of the night when Dallas informs him that the dancers get to keep every dime of the considerable tips they make.

When Mike drives Adam home, he meets and immediately develops a crush on Adam's older sister Brooke. Everything seems to go fairly smoothly for a while, but the darker side of the business catches up to Adam. Not satisfied with his income, he teams up with the club's DJ Tobias (played by Gabriel "I'm not fat, I'm fluffy" Iglesias), who deals ecstacy on the side. It isn't long before Adam becomes a drug addict. Brooke blames Mike for her brother's new-found problems.

The drug plotline came as a bit of shock to my entire group. It comes in at around the halfway point of the movie. Up until then, it's a fairly light movie about male strippers. We discussed it afterwards and none of us cared for that part of the movie. It probably would've been a different story if the trailers had even hinted at the subplot instead of making it look like a "stripper with a heart of gold" romantic comedy.

Speaking of the stripping, two words: Oooh, Lordy! Channing Tatum actually was a stripper before he became an actor and it shows in the way he takes command of every dance scene. Matthew McConaughey didn't do too bad himself during his solo numbers. However, I was disappointed by the caliber of the dance moves displayed by every other stripper in the revue, particularly Adam Rodriguez. I always loved him on CSI: Miami and figured there was no way I could be disappointed seeing him shirtless in a movie...well, I kinda was. I couldn't help thinking the producers or somebody figured that with a real ex-stripper in the movie, they didn't have to bother teaching anyone else how to dance. Alex Pettyfer's performance can be forgiven since he was playing the new guy.

I also really enjoyed the way that the dance sequences were filmed. The camera angles made me feel like I had a ringside table at Xquisite. I almost reached into my purse for some singles once or twice (haha). Having never been to a male strip club, I would have to guess that songs like "It's Raining Men" and "My Pony" are pretty appropriate for the setting. The original number "Ladies of Tampa" performed by Matthew McConaughey bare-chested in leather chaps was really funny too.

Part of what makes a movie fun for me is the way the audience experiences it. Magic Mike had without a doubt the rowdiest crowd in my movie-going memory. My best friend and I kept looking at each other and saying "Oh my God" every time a stripper routine came on, our jaws dropped to the floor. Pretty much every woman in the crowd shrieked audibly at least once, usually when Channing Tatum started doing his thing.

Overall, I'd give this movie a 7/10. It's a lot of fun and very sexy for us ladies, but I took points off for the drug dealing B-plot and some of the poorer dancing by the cast. Definitely recommend it! Great girls' night bonding experience!

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