Sunday, April 12, 2015

Indie Review: Magic Mike (2012)

          'Magic Mike' Pulls Some Interesting Tricks Out Of His Hat

          It takes a director like Steven Soderbergh to take a film, in which its premise seems out of his reach, and turn it into an entertaining romp with deep storytelling and artistic merit.

         Magic Mike follows the story of a veteran stripper named Mike (Channing Tatum) who works in construction during the day and as a stripper at night. But he slowly wants to put his stripper past behind him and start a furniture business. Also, he takes a young rookie stripper named Adam aka "The Kid" (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing, showing him how to get girls while making easy money.

       Now, what surprised the heck out of me was that even though it is a movie about male strippers, the stripping is not the main focus. While there are some musical stripping scenes, that is mostly a facet showcased for entertainment. At the center, however, the film is mainly a character study about a man trying to leave his past behind that also demonstrates the seediness of the male stripping industry. So, there are quite a bit of layers to the story and through the use of his restraint, director Steven Soderbergh manages to successfully allow the different layers to mold together. Soderbergh also did a splendid job with the cinematography and not only does he film with his typical yellow color scheme, but some of the colorful lighting in certain scenes helps fit the mood for each scene.

      Next, I'll get into some of the performances. Channing Tatum manages to pull off a great performance that is a potent blend of movie star charisma and subtle emotional gravitas. This is a complete 180 from his work in films like Foxcatcher, so he is really proving his versatile acting chops. I also thought he and Cody Horn, who plays Adam's concerned sister Brooke that Mike forms a bond with, had some nice chemistry. Alex Pettyfer is also fine as the young and rather cocky Adam and undergoes quite a dramatic arc as the film progresses. But one actor that I'd like to acknowledge is Matthew McConaughey as Mike's boss Dallas. He stole the show in my opinion as he had me in stitches yet also looking at his character with disgust. There is also a bit of complexity to his portrayal of a man who is narcissistic yet also quite vapid.

    I'll admit that I do feel some of the other actors, like Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, and Adam Rodriguez were a little underutilized. Other than that, I don't have much complaints.

    Overall, Magic Mike is an entertaining film that features a surprising dramatic story at its centerpiece. It's well directed by Steven Soderbergh, has brilliant performances by some of the cast, and has quite a bit of facets to its storyline.

    Would I Recommend It?:
    I probably would. Although some may write it off as just the "Channing Tatum stripper movie", trust me, it is a lot more than that. You might be as surprised as I was.

Grade: A-