Channing Tatum has been a model for Armani, and a movie star since his breakout lead role in teen dance romance Step Up; but before that he was an exotic dancer. Given the evidence in Magic Mike we can assume he was a pretty good one.
Inspired by Tatum's experiences as a male stripper in his late teens in Florida, Magic Mike was written by Tatum's producing partner Reid Carolin and directed by Steven Soderbergh, who he had worked with previously on Haywire.
An energetic and entertaining comedy based around a bro-mance between stripper Mike (Tatum) and his new recruit to the industry, Adam (Pettyfer), it's a film aimed at keeping the ladies happy, with a touch of romance and clothes flying off the boys at regular intervals.
Mike is a construction worker who dreams of being a furniture maker, but at night he's the main attraction at Club Xquisite where he whips women into a frenzy with his fancy footwork and perfectly toned body. Though being a male stripper in Florida isn't Mike's preferred career, there's no tragic back-story as to why he's a stripper. Instead, it seems a bit of a lark: what's not to like about dancing around in a g-string? It's well paid, a good time and women love it.
Mike does have an epiphany though, realising he's stuck in a rut and people struggle to separate him from his occupation, at which point Magic Mike becomes a coming-of-age story for 30-year-olds who realise they haven't got around to starting the life they thought they would live.
Soderbergh follows a conventional storyline, although he does throw in unusual touches. He often frames the shot and waits for his characters to drop into view, he's not afraid to shoot on an angle if it highlights a character's point of view, and he encourages naturalistic banter between characters, except for a scene-stealing Matthew McConaughey as Mike's boss who successfully adopts an over-the-top approach.
The first half will have you in stitches, largely thanks to the boys revealing their alter egos on stage, and the dancing is great, although Soderbergh plays to the comedic side of this profession and the shows are intentionally staged like high school productions. Like watching a stripper go to work on a bride at her hen's night, it's hilarious, shocking, and cringeworthy all at the same time. The stripping gives way from midway though to allow Mike's pre-mid-life crisis to unfold, which it does in a predictable manner and the laughs dry up. Magic Mike might not have a lot to say about its characters or the male stripping industry, but the flashing bottoms, pelvic thrusts and toned six-packs that Soderbergh does deliver sure are a lot of fun.
Cast: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Running time: 110 mins
Rating: R16 (offensive language, drug use and sexual themes)
Verdict: Gather the girls and get ready to giggle