Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Reid Carolin, Magic Mike is the story of a male stripper who takes a young 19-year old man into the world of male stripping as both men go into different crossroads into their lives. The film is an exploration into the world of male stripping where one person is thinking about a life outside of that world while the other goes into deep into a world of sex and drugs. Starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Cody Horn, Olivia Munn, Gabriel Iglesias, Adam Rodriguez, and Matthew McConaughey. Magic Mike is a engaging yet entertaining film from Steven Soderbergh.
The film revolves the life of a male stripper in his 30s named Mike (Channing Tatum) who takes a 19-year old college dropout named Adam (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing as they become a hot stripping duo at the Tampa strip club known as Xquisite. Yet, Mike’s life is at a crossroads as he hopes to start a furniture business of his own while his boss Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) is set to move the club to Miami to make more money. With Adam falling prey to the excesses of the stripper lifestyle, Mike ponders the decisions he’s made in his life while dealing with a future that might be bleak. It’s a film that may seem serious but it’s a story that explores a world where things are good and fun but can also be troubling. Especially as Mike has been stripping for six years and has no intentions of being a stripper in his 40s.
Reid Carolin’s screenplay has a unique structure in which is told in three acts in the course of an entire summer. A lot of it plays to a formula where there is this sense of rise and fall in Mike as he is this very charismatic stripper who can bring in a lot of money in one night dancing, shaking his ass, and drive women wild. While that life which also includes partying and sleeping with other women where he is also in an on-and-off relationship with a woman named Joanna (Olivia Munn). It’s a life that is becoming very predictable as he wants to do something else like create furniture at a good price as he’s eager to make it but couldn’t get loans despite all the money he has saved. By meeting Adam and his older sister Brooke (Cody Horn), Mike realizes he could do something to help the directionless Adam as he promises Brooke that he’ll take care of him.
For Adam, the life that he gets himself into his troubling where the film’s second half shows him delving into a world of drugs, booze, and women where he is asked by the club’s DJ Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) to help him sell drugs to people to make extra money. It would play into some of the more dramatic elements of the third act while revealing more of Mike’s disillusionment with the stripper lifestyle as well as resentment towards his boss Dallas. Dallas is a very complex individual who is a showman onstage and can also help his boys out anyway that can but is also a man that has grand ambitions for what he does to the point that he’s willing to get whatever he can for his own gain.
Steven Soderbergh’s direction is very entrancing for the way he presents this world of the male stripper lifestyle while making it into a drama about a man at the crossroads of his life. Shot in parts of Los Angeles as well as scenes in Florida, there is something that does feel like a film set in the summer where the city of Tampa is a character in the film. It’s a place where things are thriving and there’s a lot of things to do. The direction is mostly understated in terms of the dramatic moments of the films including some of the scenes behind the scenes at the Xquisite club. Yet, Soderbergh maintains a sense of liveliness in the stripping scenes as well as some of the party scenes that happen including one key moment where Adam’s drug use starts to go out of control.
It’s not just the direction that has this air of intrigue that showcases a world about a man in the transition of his life but how it’s presented. Under his Peter Andrews alias, Soderbergh’s photography is very stylish where uses these gorgeous filters to display a very sunny world in many of the film’s exteriors and some of interiors scenes while the scenes at the Xquisite club is more straightforward but also playful. Soderbergh’s editing, in his Mary Ann Bernard alias, is quite stylish as it features a few montages to display some of the craziness as well as the rhythm of the drama to establish some of the changes Mike and Adam go through in their lives. Overall, Soderbergh creates a very intoxicating yet fascinating film about the life of a male stripper.
Production designer Howard Cummings, with set decorator Barbara Munch and art director Chris Dileo, do brilliant work with the look of the Xquisite club as well as Mike‘s home and some of the places he and Adam go to. Costume designer Christopher Peterson does fantastic work with the costumes from the clothes the strippers wear onstage to some of the more casual look off the stage. Dance choreographer Alison Faulk is excellent for the moves the strippers dance to where they create a show that is all about giving the ladies a good time. Sound editor Larry Blake does superb work with the sound to capture the atmosphere of strip club and more crowded places some of the intimacy in the scenes set in the beaches. Music supervisor Frankie Pine is wonderful as it features an array of music ranging from hip-hop, dub-step, country, and rock to play up the energy of the strip clubs including an original song by Matthew McConaughey.
The casting by Carmen Cuba is amazing as it features a huge ensemble for the film that includes Betsy Brandt as a banker, Mircea Monroe as a wife of one of the strippers, Riley Keough as a girl Adam hangs out with later in the film and Gabriel Iglesias as the club DJ/part-time dealer Tobias who would get Adam into a lot of trouble. Other notable small roles in the film include Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez, Matt Bomer, and Joe Manganiello as strippers of Xquisite with Nash as the tall but sort-of-stiff Tarzan, Rodriguez as the Latino heartthrob Tito, Bomer as the stripper-next-door Ken, and Manganiello as Big Dick Richie as a guy with a big dick as they’re just a whole lot of fun to watch. Olivia Munn is pretty good as Mike’s on-and-off again girlfriend Joanna who is trying to have her own life though she enjoys Mike’s company only to be past the friends with benefits stage.
Cody Horn is wonderful as Brooke as a young woman who is wary about Adam’s new life while keeping Mike in check of being responsible as she tries to hide her attractions towards him. Matthew McConaughey is outstanding as the Xquisite owner Dallas as a man who is so full of bravado and charm where he can be the showman onstage while being a far more controlling and ambition as far as business is concerned. Alex Pettyfer is terrific as Adam as a young guy who is lost in the world as he is intrigued by Mike’s world where he becomes a stripper unaware of the baggage that comes with it. Finally, there’s Channing Tatum in a marvelous performance as Mike as he brings a lot of depth into the role of a man at a crossroads in his life as he is eager to find a life outside of stripping though he knows he doesn’t have everything figured out while falling prey into old habits as Tatum makes the guy compelling as well as being a very fun dancer who can wow the ladies.
Magic Mike is a remarkable film from Steven Soderbergh that is highlighted by the dazzling performances of Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. It’s a film that is definitely one of Soderbergh’s more entertaining films that is also quite dark and intriguing for some of the destructive elements of the male-stripping lifestyle. In the end, Magic Mike is a mesmerizing yet wild film from Steven Soderbergh.
Steven Soderbergh Films: sex, lies, & videotape - Kafka - King of the Hill - The Underneath - Gray’s Anatomy - Schizopolis - Out of Sight - The Limey - Erin Brockovich - Traffic - Ocean's 11 - Full Frontal - Solaris (2002 film) - Eros-Equilibrium - Ocean’s Twelve - Bubble - The Good German - Ocean’s Thirteen - Che - The Girlfriend Experience - The Informant! - And Everything is Going Fine - Contagion - Haywire - Side Effects - Behind the Candelabra
The Auteurs #39: Steven Soderbergh Pt. 1 - Pt. 2
Related: Magic Mike XXL
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