The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Magic Mike | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review - Magic Mike

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Munn, Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughey

Male stripper Tatum takes Pettyfer under his wing and falls for his disapproving sister.

If we are to believe Soderbergh's claims, this will be his final year of film-making as he plans to retire before his fiftieth birthday in 2013. It's a mere twenty-three years since his controversial debut "Sex, Lies & Videotape" but his short career has been a prolific one, resulting in at least one movie a year. In the last ten months alone he's given us three films. He's one of America's most respected directors but, looking back at his filmography, it's hard to see why. If you wanted to debate against the auteur theory, Soderbergh's output would be a useful weapon in your argument. Sure, his recent films share murky digital photography and ensemble casts, but it's hard to see the thumbprint of a creator on any of his work. What are his politics? Movies like "Erin Brockovich" and his two-part Che Guevara biopic would suggest leftist leanings but with "Magic Mike" he's made a movie so conservative in it's message you half expect Mitt Romney to walk onscreen at the end and give his approval. If you don't vote Republican your son could end up a drug addicted male stripper. When it comes to his ideology, Soderbergh is something of a vegetarian matador.
Here he gives us two conflicting takes on the American dream. McConaughey, in a fantastically entertaining performance, is a sleazy yet likable strip club owner who achieves his goal of moving his operation from Tampa to the more lucrative locale of Miami. Tatum is his number one employee, a stripper who is struggling to realise his ambition of opening a custom furniture business. The director wants us to sympathise with the latter yet on the evidence presented it's McConaughey who deserves the results. Tatum's character is, frankly, a bit of an idiot. Are we meant to feel sorry for him when the bank refuses him a loan? Isn't the reason we're in the current financial mess precisely because banks were too quick to give money to idiots of his calibre? He certainly lives up to his nickname though. Anyone who can work for a roofing firm during the day, perform as a male stripper at night, party till dawn and still manage to look like Channing Tatum must be a magician. The movie is as unrealistic as Tatum's career expectations.
If Soderbergh is to have one legacy it's his uncanny ability to promote the careers of some of the worst actresses ever to appear in front of a camera. The man who introduced us to Andie McDowell and Gina Carano now inflicts the atrocious Cody Horn upon us. Her one technique seems to be a vacant stare into the corner of the screen which actually had me wondering during her opening scene if she was playing a blind character. On reflection she may have been reading her lines off cue cards. That would at least explain the monotone delivery. There's zero chemistry between her and Tatum and it's impossible to see why a character who can apparently have any woman he wants would fall for this piece of driftwood. She of course initially wants nothing to do with him unless he quits stripping. Are we really expected to root for this relationship? I for one certainly wouldn't want to involve myself with a woman who can't see past my job and, believe me, I'm no Channing Tatum.
This is possibly the only movie I've been to where people walked out because it wasn't offensive enough. If you, like the gang of cougars who left my screening in disappointment, are expecting a male version of "Showgirls" you'll be severely disappointed. Had Paul Verhoeven made this instead of the dreary Soderbergh, I suspect it would have had a lot more balls, in every sense of the word.
5/10