A week back, when I was finishing my cheesy romance month, Free App Maven critic Shaila Meeker, my co-host of the Nerdiest Talk Show on Earth Brandon Lias, and soon to be frat bro/little brother to Shaila, DJ Meeker sat me down and together we ‘watched’ three movies. One of which was Just Go With It which I reviewed last week starring one person I cannot stand Adam Sandler and the second was The Ugly Truth starring Gerard Butler another not-favorite of mine (and one we will get to later). The third is the movie we will be talking about today. It is a movie I said I would never see, Channing Tatum’s ode to his late teenage years, Magic Mike. That night wasn’t fun for me, but let’s talk about Magic Mike. At the time of its release, I wrote this movie off as something that just wasn’t for me. A fun, romantic comedy centered around some machismo eye candy. Not my style, but I can see the appeal. After nearly a year of people claiming the movie to be well done, I gave in and sat down to give it a watch. After it was all over, it was surprisingly the best movie of the night.
Set in the city of Tampa Florida, Magic Mike is the story of Mike (Channing Tatum) and Adam (Alex Pettyfer). After being fired from his job and in a rough patch with his life that only a 19 year-old college drop out can experience, Adam is a little down on his luck. Luckily though, he is befriended by a smooth talking Mike who later tricks him into becoming a stripper at Matthew McConaughey’s club Xquisite. Matteo is technically playing a character named Dallas, but let’s be honest… He is playing Matthew McConaughey.
The two eventually form a friendship and Mike begins to fall in love with Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn). The movie then goes through the hilarious world of male stripping, Mike’s desire to move to Miami and make furniture, surprise appearances from Michael Mangianello and Kevin ‘I thought he was dead’ Nash. It has Matthew McConaughey greased up and playing a guitar as well as the seedy underbelly that only Tampa’s drug ring assisted by everyone’s favorite fluffy comedian Gabriel Iglesias.
Channing Tatum is Great and Matthew McConaughey is Hilarious
I was never a fan of Channing Tatum. To me, his scale of emotion ranged from monotone to slightly louder monotone when he acts. It also isn’t helped that I see him as the male equivalent of Megan Fox. The person whose acting talent is questionable, but gets a pass because they represent everything that males or females want to fantasize about. He is the muscular, good-looking, tough guy, but with a soft intellectual center that can only truly be released through the love of a good woman, namely the woman who is currently creating this fantasy world. If I’m going to be critical of Megan Fox for being an appalling actress but with a body that makes most men’s eyeballs fly out of their sockets and their pants uncomfortably tight, then I will also be critical of Channing Tatum’s puppy dog eyes, washboard abs, and personality that says you can change him with your love. Equality!
Even so, Channing Tatum still has the same mannerisms that I have been critical about in the past… But in this movie it is actually rather charming. I have to say the Channing Tatum method of acting works really well in this film. He seems to be a person who truly enjoys doing what he does, but does want to expand his horizons beyond the realms of a male stripper. Even though his strange furniture building business seems ‘odd’ I do understand his desire to quit the job, move to a new town, and start life over doing what he loves to do. His relationship with Brooke does feel like a genuine romance with a legitimate ending. Granted it is cheesy as all hell, but I think it has been established I like my rom coms with a heavy helping of cheese. Considering how awful of a character Adam is (and we will get to that in the cons) this movie had me saying ‘GIVE ME MORE TATUM!’
But of all the characters in this movie, none surprised me more than the hilarious antics of Matthew McConaughey. Well okay, what surprised me more was seeing Kevin Nash show up, wonder why the hell he is in this movie, and wonder how the hell he is even able to move his knees let alone ‘dance’. But that is beside the point. Matthew McConaughey plays Dallas, the sleazy owner, operator, and dancer of his strip club Xquisite. I do think director Steven Soderbergh just told Matthew McConaughey ‘Matteo, you are playing yourself… But you own a strip club. GO!’ And he just ran with it all the way to the multiple awards he was justifiably nominated and won. He is truly an experience in this film, watching him go through his mannerisms and connecting them to this Dallas character. Not to mention, the moments when he is acting serious are some very powerful moments. A surprise enjoyment of this movie considering one scene you can have him strumming a guitar sitting on a strip club runway one moment and the next giving a monologue that is steeped in drama.
This movie is a very well-balanced. Before I saw this movie, I thought Magic Mike would be nothing more than Channing Tatum eye candy gyrating on stage for two hours. There would be a few penis jokes thrown in their and a greased up Matthew McConaughey… But that is about it. But after seeing Magic Mike, I have to say that this is a well-balanced film that walks the fine line between laugh out loud enjoyment and serious drama. The first 2/3 of the movie is hilarious with only subtle signs of the serious tone the last act is going to take sprinkled in the high jinks.
But by the time the third act hits and the shoe drops hard with the realms of douchebaggery and drug addiction, it does not feel like you have been whipped lash with seriousness in the middle of a laughorama. The pacing is excellent and transitions between emotions masterfully. All the while, the romance between Mike and Brooke grows through all the comedy, the drama, and none of it feels forced or contrived that it might feel in the hands of lesser writers. Bottom line, Magic Mike is really well paced and well written.
As I said in the pros of this movie, before Magic Mike I was just not a fan of Channing Tatum’s acting. But thanks to him being surprisingly charming in this movie and mixed with the fact that Adam or The Kid is an absolutely terrible protagonist, I’d take Tatum any day. I absolutely hate everything that has to do with the Adam character. I do not like his character, I do not like what his character becomes, and I think if you excluded his character from the movie entirely then you would have a far better movie than what was presented.
I can understand where the film was going. They want to portray Adam as the younger version of Mike and connect Mike’s old life to the experiences and problems that Adam is going through, namely is drug using, buying into Dallas’s plans, and leading him to the apparently ‘unfulfilling’ life of a male stripper. It is supposed to show at the end after Mike has left that the cycle continues as Adam takes the place of Mike and will continued the horrific circle. But even then, I do not think this was well done.
Adam does not come across as a sympathetic character like Mike. It is shown that Mike is taking Adam under his wing and most of the movie led me to believe that both Mike and Adam were the central protagonists. But as the movie progressed, the only thing I could see in Adam is a character that does not learn a lesson and does not get punished for his clearly negative actions. He goes through the rigors of drug abuse, because of him thugs break Mike’s furniture which is his pride and joy, then Mike has to pony up $10 Grand so Adam doesn’t get killed. To repay him, all Adam says is he will pay him back and reaffirms the fact that he is just an absolutely terrible person, a terrible friend, and an all around douchebag who did not learn his lesson. It doesn’t show that he learned anything or give any hints that he is not going to up and do it again. I am not sure if the end of the movie is to insinuate that being a male stripper is his comeuppance… But honestly from what I saw in the film, it seems like a pretty fun and interesting life. I can see how it can get tiring, but eventually you can find another job besides being a stripper.
This movie would have been amazing if it wasn’t for the fact that the Adam character was in it. I would have rather seen the story of Mike, a guy who likes his job but wants to move on from the world of stripping, move to a new town, and start making furniture. Along the way, he meets a girl, and so on and so forth. You could have the same movie, just eliminate the drugs and the pointless asshole in Adam. It would have been a much better movie. This character will be listed near the top of characters that almost completely ruined a movie for me.
This is a great movie. There is comedy, there is drama, and there is some strong romance. Channing Tatum has won me over with a surprisingly charming performance, Matthew McConaughey is being is normal Matteo self, and overall it is just a well paced movie. If it wasn’t for the fact that Adam is an absolutely dreadful character, this movie would have received a much higher score. But because of that it has been reduced from ‘amazing’ to ‘still good’.
Final Score 3/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review, then please like and subscribe for more from me. Please return Thursday for another episode of The Nerdiest Talk Show on Earth where Brandon and I talk about our Most Hated Video Games.