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MAGIC MIKE Review By: MattInRC Is It Only For The Ladies?

By: MattInRC

MAGIC MIKE is a surprisingly deep and serious film about love and male stripping that fails to keep our attention. Imagine that.

MAGIC MIKE Takes It All Off In This International Trailer-

Director Steven Soderbergh expresses the challenges of contemporary life in a way few do. From Ocean's Eleven to Traffic, it's all about the great price some people pay to get ahead and the lives they ultimately affect. MAGIC MIKE tries to make the case that those involved in the 'male review entertainment' field deal with problems of their own making, partially due to the nature of their chosen career (if one could call it that). And while the film is remarkably deep in expressing this lifestyle in funny and unique ways, the film loses steam midway through the third act, becoming a shadow of what it could have been.

Mike (Channing Tatum, GI Joe) is a great stripper - he knows how to work a crowd, and the girls swoon when he pops, gyrates, or removes his shirt for those elusive ones, fives, and tens. Don't even ask what he'll do for a twenty. Yet, it's not the career he wants for himself. Determined to start his own furniture-making business, Mike works an odd collection of jobs when not dancing, from roofer to car detailer, hoping to make enough to convince a bank - any bank - that his low credit score doesn't tell the whole story. And while he's a shrewd money-maker, the stripping lifestyle comes with too many excesses that keep him from making a break: the fast women and faster lifestyle are an incredible rush for him and fellow beefcakes Richie (Joe Manganiello, True Blood), Ken (Matt Bomer, White Collar), Tito (Adam Rodriguez, CSI: Miami) and club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey, The Lincoln Lawyer). Mike hooks up frequently with the sexually available Joanna (Olivia Munn, Iron Man 2), but a deep relationship is elusive at best. When Mike meets the aimless but muscle-bound 19-year-old Adam (Adam Pettyfer, In Time) at a roofing job, Mike recruits him into 'the business,' granting him the moniker "The Kid." This is not what Adam's sister Brooke (Cody Horn, White Collar) has in mind for him, as Adam's life has one big unfulfilled moment. As Adam's life begins to descend into a mess of drugs, drug dealing, and sex, Mike must choose between his growing affection for Brooke and all the trappings of the industry, all while trying to negotiate a business partnership with Dallas that's not mutually shared.

Both Tatum and McConaughey turn in stellar performances, with Tatum demonstrating his Step Up dance moves weren't an aberration and McConaughey proving he still has the knack to completely immerse himself in a role. McConaughey steals every scene, with his "Ah right, ah right" southern drawl and chiseled pectorals. Like every Soderbergh film, there's a number of well-known actors surrounded by a supporting cast who serve as leads in their own careers. This is the star power which the director consistently attracts, with the exception of Horn who seems strikingly out of place here. The chemistry between her and Tatum feels forced, and the two never gel enough that audiences hope they will eventually get together. In a lifestyle where beautiful and easy women are the order of the day, Horn's plain looks and sulking features create an uneasy tension that doesn't feel right. Perhaps this was Soderbergh's plan, to make their relationship a microcosm of the larger dysfunction we see around them. Either way, the two seem so uncomfortable around each other that it will leave audiences wondering if Horn was out of her league from the start. Writer Reid Carolin makes his feature film debut with a script that had the potential to become an Oscar contender, but sadly falls flat late in the third act. Actors can only play the parts written for them, and Carolin's script is filled with enough holes to lead an entire army of male strippers into battle. There's a drug subplot that needed more time to develop, as well as some surprises near the end that feel more rushed than effective. Moreover, there's very little stripping done in Magic Mike, which might disappoint some females hoping to see a flesh show as opposed to a serious and unsatisfying story about relationships.

Magic Mike had the potential to become another Boogie Nights. But unlike that classic, Mike suffers from too many miscues, missteps, and the casting of Horn to save it. Ladies will be disappointed to learn that the marketed version of Mike does not match what you see, and that there's actually more female than male nudity displayed. For someone so skilled at character development, Soderbergh's cautionary tale dives each time the dancing ends and the story begins. And just like the stripper's life off-stage, Magic Mike rings hollow at the end of a long day.

Magic Mike is rated R for brief male and female nudity, sexual situations, drug use, and language.

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