REVIEW: MAGIC MIKE

Abuse and exploitation of women. Greed, envy and selfishness. Drug and alcohol abuse. Emasculation of men… If this is what you are looking for in entertainment, then Magic Mike will definitely satisfy your demand and deliver what it promises.

The film is not only dull and boring but loaded with shoddy performances that make D-grade male strippers look like Oscar winners, and it definitely gets the prize for one of the worst films of the year.

If you want to present a unique and exceptional view into the world of male stripping, at least begin with a story and a script that have merit and meaning.

The film revolves around Mike (Channing Tatum), a man of many talents and loads of charm. He spends his days pursuing the American Dream from as many angles as he can handle: from roofing houses and detailing cars to designing furniture from his Tampa beach condo. At night he is also the hot headliner in an all-male revue at Club Xquisite owned by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).

Seeing potential in a guy he calls the Kid (Alex Pettyfer), Mike takes the 19-year-old under his wing and schools him in the arts of dancing, partying, picking up women and making easy money.

Tatum does his best to rise to the occasion as star and co-producer, but he is so overwhelmed by McConaughey’s overblown and hammy performance, that he does what he does best; smile and be his charming self.

Tatum’s character is a cocky and hardcore stripper who suddenly grows a soul when Cupid’s arrow strikes what seems to be left of his heart. (He abuses women for his own contentment and nothing else; it’s their worship of him that turns him into a godly and egotistical manipulator.)

The idea is very loosely based on Channing’s own experiences as a stripper when he was 19-years-old. During the writing process, scriptwriter and Tatum’s producing partner Reid Carolin (who also produced Tatum’s Stop Loss and Ten Year), turned fact into an absurd fictional reality that is appalling: filled with stereotypes with no depth or meaning and little integrity. Emotional abuse and physical abuse of drugs, alcohol and people form the core of the shallow characters in Magic Mike.

One of the only redeeming elements in the film is Pettyfer, who delivers an impressive performance, although it feels as if he is completely in another movie; like Alice lost in Wonderland or a rabbit caught in headlights.

The least one could ask for in Magic Mike, particularly looking at the title and subject matter, is that it should be sexy.

Director Stephen Soderbergh, who started his career trying to be a provocative filmmaker with films like Sex, Lies and Videotape and the dismal Full Frontal, is a filmmaker who enjoys using his toys and focuses on context rather than content; he desperately tries to infuse sexy with a serious and contemplative ‘real-life’ approach.

The so-called ‘seriously choreographed’ dance routines are nothing but glorified aerobics, with the men pumping their crotches in cheap and unappealing degradation.

Ego and self esteem do not lie in pumping yourself up like a mad dog, thumping your chest and slapping your mates like cavemen, and howling at the moon.

‘Sexy’ must sizzle and not deflate sensuality or insult the intelligence of the audience. ‘Sexy’ embodies eroticism and sensuality, not nasty and cheap exhibitionism.

If you feel like watching a clever and amusing film about male stripping, spare a trip to the movies and re-watch The Full Monty, a thoughtful and meaningful glimpse into the trials and tribulations of male stripping.

Perhaps the intent of Magic Mike might be harmless comedy that spoofs the world of male stripping, but it sadly fall in-between not knowing what it wants to say, and taking itself way too serious.

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