EW Movie Review: "Magic Mike"
Before he was an actor, Channing Tatum worked as a male stripper. Now, he returns to his roots in the new Steven Soderbergh film "Magic Mike." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly magazine filed the following review.
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“Magic Mike” is Steven Soderbergh's super sharp and blithely entertaining movie about the world of male strippers. The title stud, played by Channing Tatum, has a life a lot of guys would probably envy. A hunky hard hat in Tampa, he fancies himself an entrepreneur but really he's just a hustler without a plan. At night, though, he becomes a king.
At the Xquisite Male Dance Revue, Mike whips the customers into a frenzy with his cool, athletic dance moves, then sends them over the top by tearing his clothes off. He’s got the body of a superhero but what seals the deal is the twinkle in his eye. On stage he's selling his flesh but off stage he's living the dream. Or so he thinks.
Strip clubs for men have always been dark palaces of sin but from the moment that Chippendales launched in the late ‘70s, strips clubs for women had a different atmosphere. The mood was more festive, a happy, guilt-free zone of communal lust.
“Magic Mike” takes its tone from that carefree, liberated spirit. Soderbergh ushers the audience into the backstage world of the Xquisite club, a genially tacky subculture the film observes with a shrewdness and detail to rival “Boogie Nights” or “The Wrestler.”
And Soderbergh looks at Mike with a juicy blend of amusement and compassion. Bit by bit, the film adds up his life, from his sex-as-sport relationship with a psychology student to his complex bond with Dallas, the drawling stripper who runs the club. Matthew McConaughey, in a brilliant performance, plays Dallas as a father figure and shady businessman who always keeps his real agenda a little out of sight.
As Mike, Tatum proves himself a true movie star. His Mike glides through the world with the ease of a god and on stage he's electrifying. But Tatum also gives him glimmers of doubt and anxiety that make him intensely sympathetic.
“Magic Mike” has a conventional structure, yet a teasing question percolates beneath: If selling yourself is as much fun as this movie makes it look, what could be wrong with it? The answer is that once you've sold yourself, losing yourself may not be far behind.