Magic Mike out­strips the com­pe­ti­tion.....

Chan­ning Ta­tum’s Magic Mike out­strips the com­pe­ti­tion with good gy­ra­tions, writes Sarah Ste­wart

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - CONTENTS - Magic Mike opens to­day.

IN a big-screen world of brood­ing su­per­heroes, it’s a case of Magic Mike to the res­cue! He’s got the civil­ian al­ter ego and the ac­ro­batic skills to ri­val Spidey or Bat­man – but this guy does his best work when he’s tak­ing off a silly out­fit (prefer­ably slowly, and set to the grind­ing beat of Gin­uwine’s Pony).

Like the ‘‘c**k-rockin’ Kings of Tampa,’’ the all-male strip re­vue in which Mike (Chan­ning Ta­tum) is the star at­trac­tion, Steven Soder­bergh’s breezy dram­edy Magic Mike serves up some­thing for ev­ery taste.

It’s got funny and loose guy-bond­ing mo­ments, a bit of ro­mance and some first-rate danc­ing, much of it by Ta­tum him­self (whose strip­per past re­port­edly in­spired the screen­play).

It’s also ter­rific-look­ing, as you’d ex­pect from Soder­bergh, who gives the Florida ex­te­rior shots in Magic Mike a bleached-out Po­laroid vibe and finds the per­fect mid­dle ground be­tween glam and sleazy for his de­pic­tion of small-city Amer­i­can night­clubs.

Oh, were you in­ter­ested in some­thing else? Greased-up abs and tear­away pants, per­haps? There’s an eye-pop­ping amount of bur­lesque beef­cake on dis­play here, all done with raunchy good hu­mour. It’s like The Full Monty, ex­cept with guys you ac­tu­ally want to see take it all off, or Boo­gie Nights mi­nus the angst and the body count.

Well, maybe a lit­tle angst. The af­fa­ble Mike holds down var­i­ous jobs but, at 30, is dream­ing of start­ing his own busi­ness, craft­ing found-ob­ject fur­ni­ture. In the mean­time, he works days in con­struc­tion, where he meets Adam (Alex Pet­tyfer), a 19-year-old screw-up whose ex-jock bod makes him ripe for re­cruit­ment to Mike’s more lu­cra­tive gig, ex­otic danc­ing at Club Xquisite.

‘‘This is The Kid,’’ Mike dubs Adam when in­tro­duc­ing him to the strip­per crew.

Big Dick Richie (Joe Man­ganiello) sits at the sewing ma­chine putting the fin­ish­ing touches on a gold thong; a be­he­moth named Tarzan (Kevin Nash) asks if his legs look ashy.

But the real draw – al­most out­shin­ing Ta­tum’s high-volt­age ap­peal – is Matthew McConaughey, in what might be his best role yet as preen­ing club owner Dal­las. Bor­row­ing a catch­phrase from his iconic Dazed and Con­fused char­ac­ter – ‘‘all right, all right, all ri­i­i­i­ight!’’ – and more chis­elled and leath­ery than ever, he schools the Kid and schemes about up­grad­ing to big­time Miami.

The Kid’s new life­style doesn’t sit well with his older sis­ter and room­mate, Brooke (a nat­u­ral­is­tic Cody Horn). But even she can’t to­tally re­sist goofy Mike who as­sures her he’ll look af­ter her lit­tle brother and makes her jaw drop when she catches his rou­tine at the club.

Be­cause watch­ing this guy dance is un­de­ni­ably thrilling, even to a cynic like Brooke, and Soder­bergh’s cam­era adores him. Bathing his star in vi­o­let lights and sexy lens flares, the di­rec­tor show­cases the moves that would have served Ta­tum well as a strip­per, and earned him fame in 2006’s street­danc­ing movie Step Up.

Ta­tum’s co-stars de­serve a lot of credit, too, for be­ing in­cred­i­bly game – and lim­ber – for the ex­ten­sively chore­ographed Flash­dance- rem­i­nis­cent dance num­bers, cheesy get-ups and wolf-whistling fe­male ex­tras.

Man­ganiello, whose oft-naked True Blood char­ac­ter has al­ready net­ted him a de­voted fol­low­ing, has some of the best stage mo­ments, like a fire­man rou­tine gone awry and a sil­hou­et­ted pose that con­firms the prove­nance of his char­ac­ter’s nick­name.

Matt Bomer ( White Col­lar) is also in fine form as a dancer, Ken, while the slightly wooden Pet­tyfer is at his best on­stage, learn­ing to work the crowd.

There’s a dark-side-of-he­do­nism turn, as The Kid’s par­ty­ing gets out of con­trol, but thank­fully, Soder­bergh doesn’t wal­low in it. There’s no short­age of tragic movies about the adult-en­ter­tain­ment world out there al­ready.

In­stead, his tone stays mainly with the sunny and, yes, Magic Mike, who you just know will al­ways land on his feet – even when back-flip­ping off a stage into a mob of squeal­ing soror­ity girls.

Alex Pet­tyfer and Chan­ning Ta­tum star in Magic Mike.

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