BROS CAN EN­JOY ‘MAGIC MIKE’ TOO

COME ON, LOOSEN UP, STRAIGHT MEN.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - MATT PRIGGE @mattprigge matt.prigge@metro.us

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.

/ WARNER BROS. PIC­TURES

Chan­ning Ta­tum, cen­ter, leads an army of six-packs in Steven Soder­bergh’s “Magic Mike.”

/ WARNER BROS. PIC­TURES

“Magic Mike” boasts some fun in­ter­play be­tween Chan­ning Ta­tum and love in­ter­est Cody Horn.

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