‘Magic Mike’ Offers Style with Substance

Let’s be honest: Magic Mike could be a film with nothing more than the promise of nudity from several hot male actors, and it would pull in audiences. That’s largely what the trailers have promised, with a hint of some potential romance. With director Steven Soderbergh on board, though, there’s more going on inMagic Mike than one would assume.

On top of the obvious draw of the film, Magic Mike manages to be a rather timely film about life in the current economy, as well as the dark side of sex-based industries. And that’s not including the romantic angle, which is underplayed compared to the rest of the elements.

Magic Mike follows the characters of Mike (Channing Tatum) and Adam (Alex Pettyfer) one summer as Mike introduces Adam to the world of stripping. At first, the world seems like a fun place, with women, sex, and alcohol galore. As the film progresses, though, a creeping sense of darkness begins to overtake the characters. For Mike, his plans to make something more of himself repeatedly fail, whether it’s in business or in an attempted love life with Adam’s sister, Paige (Cody Horn). Adam, meanwhile, descends into darker vices quickly.

The center of the film is the titular character, obviously, and Channing Tatum shines in the role. As an actor, Tatum still can come across as a bit wooden (feel free to insert your wood-related joke here), but the character of Mike works because Tatum is allowed to use his natural charm, not to mention his…physical assets, to his advantage. Pettyfer does good work, too, in portraying Adam’s descent through the film.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s the added visual enticement of the fellow strippers, includingWhite Collar’s Matt Bomer and True Blood’s Joe Manganiello. The range of men alone should provide something for pretty much every audience member’s physical preference.

The secret weapon of the film’s cast, though, is Matthew McConaughey. His role of Dallas feels like it was tailor-made for him; it plays up to a lot of the conceptions about the actor, adding in a layer of sleaze that’s alternately appealing and revolting.

Magic Mike is going to be a hit with women and men who are attracted to men, regardless of the storyline. It feels like a bonus that the film has heart in addition to the other body parts on display. My one complaint, and it’s one that seems to be shared by a lot of people, is that it’s not in IMAX or 3D.

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