Female strippers are a dime-a-dozen – perhaps less if you count Elizabeth Berkley in “Showgirls” – but, except for “The Full Monty” (1997), there’s never been a mainstream movie about male exotic dancers.
Affable Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) stars in the erotic Kings of Tampa strip show but his real ambition is to earn a living as a custom furniture designer/craftsman and he yearns for a committed relationship. During the day, he works in Florida construction which is where he meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a 19 year-old drop-out, whom he introduces to Xquisite dance club owner/M.C. Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) as the Kid. As a naive newcomer to dirty dancing/disrobing, the Kid picks up thong pointers from Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello from “True Blood”), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and Tarzan (WWE’s Kevin Nash). Meanwhile, his hard-working, over-protective older sister Brooke (Cody Horn) is none too happy about this turn of events as cocky Adam gets engulfed in the stoned/party scene and she finds herself attracted to good-hearted, gyrating Mike. But when Dallas decides to move the tawdry troupe to a big-time venue in Miami, major complications arise.
Tackling this garish, fantasy-driven, role-reversal story, cinematographer/editor/director Steven Soderbergh (“Haywire,” “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Traffic,” “Contagion”) and choreographer Alison Faulk display men as blatant sex objects in Chippendales-style, butt cheeks-baring chaps, gathering money in their jockstraps while searching for artistic validity in other realms.
Reportedly, Soderbergh and Tatum split the film’s $7 million cost, a particularly savvy move for hunky Tatum, who once worked as a stripper and whose naturalistic acting ability exceeds what surfaced in “21 Jump Street,” “Dear John,” “Step Up,” “G.I. Joe” and “The Vow.” But it’s preening Matthew McConaughey whose rippling torso steals the picture, along with his amusing banter as he taunts deliriously enthusiastic, if flustered customers, describing “What the law says you can touch and not touch,” salaciously adding, “But I think I see a lot of law-breakers in this house tonight!”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Magic Mike” is a sleazy 7, a raunchy, R-rated beefcake feast.