Every now and then a movie that looks awful turns out to be good. In the case of the current summer blockbuster season so far, the films that seemed dismal proved to be just that, and several promising films fell flat (we're looking at you, Ridley Scott). But now along comes Magic Mike, a film about male strippers at a club called Xquisite. In the initial trailer and promotional clip, we saw the men hold umbrellas suggestively and grind to It's Raining Men. Those clips suggested the film would be nothing more than a gimmicky spectacle.
Shockingly, Magic Mike proves to be an absorbing combination of palaver and humor. Critics are gibbering with praise for the film, and here's why ...
Men Are Exploited, For Once: Magic Mike is one of the few summer films geared toward women. In fact, it's one of the few non-chick flick movies in general that caters to the female perspective. Magic Mike successfully goes against the grain. Finally, men are objectified in the film in order to sell ... movie tickets! But what could have been a brainless attempt at a film instead offers a surprisingly effective narrative. Sure, the men dress up in some ridiculous costumes -- at one point, Matt Bomer emerges from a life-size box as a living Ken doll -- but many of the male characters have considerable depth.
It Has Rockin' Dance Numbers: Director Steven Soderbergh captures the thrill and lure of live performance. Who doesn't want to see a Fourth of July themed soldier dance while being led by a scantily clad Uncle Sam? Channing Tatum, who proved to be a phenomenal dancer in Step Up, shows off his best moves as Magic Mike, club Xquisite's main attraction. But fear not, it's not just dancing and rope swinging acrobatics -- there's plenty of dry humping to go around, too.
There's An Actual Story Line: Let's face it, Magic Mike would still be a hit without a plot (have you seen the poster?) but -- strangely enough -- there is one! Magic Mike (Tatum) is determined to become an innovative furniture designer. He works as a construction worker and stripper in order to save enough money to do so. His dream of becoming an entrepreneur and his inability to achieve that goal proves to be an engaging story line.
Matthew McConaughey Essentially Plays Himself: As Dallas, who owns club Xquisite, Matthew McConaughey is absurdly hilarious. Half-naked in practically every scene, he constantly spews his nonsensical philosophies at anyone who will listen. In one standout scene, he shows newbie dancer Adam (Alex Pettyfer) how to earn the big bucks by aggressively grinding on him. A retired stripper, Dallas has dreams of expanding his act throughout the U.S. His unwavering ambition and high-octane demeanor is an intriguing mix of desperation and arrogance.
Magic Mike is now in theaters and has earned a coveted Fresh label at Rotten Tomatoes.