If you think Magic Mike is a movie filled with buff bodies, pelvic thrusts and uber-tight, baby-oil proof tearaway clothing than you would be... right. But don't let the ridiculously toned, sculpted; glistening muscles of Hollywood's hottest hunks distract you (completely) from the entertaining yet moving story centred on the world of male stripping.
Inspired by Channing Tatum's brief foray into the disrobing business, the 32-year old actor plays the title role of Mike, a man with his finger in many entrepreneurial pots. But it's his seamless dancing skills and washboard abs that brings home the bacon to fund the hedonistic lifestyle held in esteem by a rebellious 19 year old (Alex Pettyfer) ready to be taken under Magic Mike's wing.
As the Kid learns the ropes, from Mike, club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) and the rest of the male troupe, he becomes intoxicated with the high life stripping seems to bring away from the disappointing reality he previously shared with his protective sister. But just as the Kid falls in love with this world of endless partying, his role model becomes ever more restless and disillusioned with it all, as he tries to work out when the line got so blurred between Mike the person and Mike the stripper.
With the incomparable director Steven Soderbergh at the helm this "stripper" movie safely avoided the descent into the cheesy void of cinema, providing a funny, present and emotive dialogue in between some rather epic dance sequences. It may be six years since we first saw Channing throwing some shapes in Step Up, but the man has still got game, and after starring in the brilliant 21 Jump Street and the teary romance The Vow, he's rounding off the midpoint of the movie calendar with yet another excellent big screen performance.
But let's not let Tatum steal all the thunder. Attention must be paid to Mr McConaughey who has finally managed to rise out of the formulaic void of the romantic comedy to regain his status as a damn fine character actor. As Dallas, he goes from comic to threat with charismatic ease, making him the most captivating person in most of the scenes. And after witnessing his brilliant performance as the title character in Killer Joe, I cannot wait to see his performances in The Paperboy and Mud also out this year.
And even with a male-dominated cast it was refreshing to see the female leads (Cody Horn and Olivia Munn) as strong-minded women and not the easy-fix of the passive feminine love interests. The characters are just as complex as their male counterparts, and it's their moments of unlikeability that makes them more realistically likeable as a whole.
With better quality eye candy than The Full Monty, Magic Mike narrowly misses the standard of dark humour set by the similarly minded Boogie Nights. But that doesn't stop this film baring a sophisticated imagining of a rather seedy world and providing a platform for the re-emerging talent and breakthrough performances of Matthew McConnaughey, Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer. Don't miss out.
In Cinemas nationwide Wednesday 11 July.
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