BROS CAN ENJOY ‘MAGIC MIKE’ TOO
COME ON, LOOSEN UP, STRAIGHT MEN.
It’s really well-made
“Magic Mike” delivers the goods, which is to say junk thrusts toward the lens, plus Channing Tatum butt-age by Minute 2. But it wasn’t helmed by some exploitation hack; behind the lens was the guy nominated for two best director Oscars the same year. (He won for “Traffic” over “Erin Brockovich.”) Steven Soderbergh gives it his usual detached, almost clinical tone, which helps downplay the script’s occasional soapier, hoarier tendencies. And because he photographed it too (as he did “Magic Mike XXL,” which he did not direct), it looks great, and not only when ripped alpha gods are strutting about.
It’s about something
Stripping is a job, and “Magic Mike” never forgets it. In fact, it’s very much a film in our world, namely one still caught up in the wake of the economic apocalypse. Tatum’s Mike has a dream: creating an oddball furniture business. Money is always on everyone’s mind. Sometimes they’re even funny about it. In a scene where Mike tries and fails to get a loan from a bank, his exasperation is expressed in modern vernacular: “I read the news. I know the ones in distress are y’all.”
Speaking of which …
It’s pretty funny
Along with boasting its star’s dance moves and deeply impressive back-flip abilities, “Magic Mike” is a showcase for Tatum’s by now established comedic chops. He has a way with a mumbly, weird line reading, plus an endearing knack for letting his goofy side fly. His jokey side mixes nicely with that of his director, who has one of the oddest senses of humor in the biz. Soderbergh gives “Magic Mike” a deadpan air, plus oddball jokes, like the retro Warner Bros. logo and forcing co-star Matthew McConaughey to mock his own bongo-gate.
The dancing is good
Straight men, don’t be so uptight. A solid dance scene is a solid dance scene, and even if you’re no great admirer of the male figure, you can enjoy the copious stripping numbers as performances. You can also enjoy them for what they are, namely sequences whose chief visual pleasure is not for straight men. That rarely happens in blockbuster cinema, which is almost uniformly aimed at delighting male teens, or the male teens inside us (maybe). That they’re goofy, filled with silly costumes and ridiculous concepts, helps too. If you’re a straight male watching “Magic Mike,” you can enjoy that someone who isn’t you is, for a change, being taken to their own happy place.
Channing Tatum, center, leads an army of six-packs in Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike.”
“Magic Mike” boasts some fun interplay between Channing Tatum and love interest Cody Horn.