Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars
In the first few minutes of “Magic Mike” the audience is given a great piece of advice: If you meet a woman whose name is similar to a car, flower or stone, don’t ask what she does for a living.
“Magic Mike” is a modern look, with a sometimes retro feel (the film opens with the mid 1970’s Warner Brothers logo), into the world of male entertainment. Mike (Tatum) is a 30 year old “entrepreneur” who dances for dollar bills in the hopes of raising enough money to fund a business making furniture. He also works construction, details cars and pretty much anything he can to keep the cash coming in. One day at work he is saddled with supervising Adam (Pettyfer), a clueless young man who shows up at the job site in tennis shoes. Mike gives Adam a ride home after work and invites him to meet him later at his second job. Adam is surprised to learn that Mike is a male dancer but, promised a good payday at the end of the night, accepts a job at the club as the dancer’s assistant…getting props and costumes ready. As fate would have it, one of the dancer’s misses a cue and Adam is thrust out on stage. He very nervously entices the crowd and soon finds himself on the roster, advertised as The Kid!
At first look you wouldn’t expect to see Steven Soderbergh’s name attached to a project like this. But it’s only his skill behind the camera that gets the film through its clunky parts, which is really the parts of the film that don’t take place in the club. Based in part on Channing Tatums real-life experiences during his eight months of “dancing,” the story is really about Mike’s efforts to better himself. Tacked on romance (Mike has a thing for Adam’s sister) and a drug-dealer subplot often stop the film in its tracks, which is a shame because the action on stage and behind the scenes is fun to watch. McConaughey is the most fun, playing a character named Dallas. Dallas owns the club and hopes to expand from Tampa to Miami. He’s also the Mr. Miyagi of male dancing, giving advice to anyone who will listen. It’s clear McConaughey is having fun with the role and that enjoyment radiates off the screen. Tatum continues to grow as an actor. He builds on the comedic goodwill he earned with this year’s “21 Jump Street” and also proves himself one hell of a dancer. Where the other actors in the film have occasional flash Tatum is a one man dance recital.