PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

June 29, 2012

‘Magic Mike’, beefcake with a side of drama

Sean McBride
The Port Arthur News

— Summer is traditionally the time when I answer a lot of questions from young men about upcoming comic book movies, but women have been dominating the Q & A over the past few weeks. They want to know about “Magic Mike,” otherwise known as the film about a hunky male stripper with a heart of gold. It stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Joe Manganiello and Matthew McConaughey, all of whom spend much of the film running around without their shirts.

It’s a medium budget film, so I’m guessing that they didn’t have enough money for shirts in the costume budget.

The good news is that in addition to the impressive eye candy up on the screen, “Magic Mike” also turns out to be a pretty good film. Directed by Steven Soderberg, this is one of his best films in years because he makes us empathize with these men who dance for a living before showing us the downside of their profession. It starts out as a feel good romp before plumbing the darker territory that gives the film some credible dramatics to go along with the incredible male bodies up on the stage.

Channing Tatum stars, and if you believe the hype, the story is based on his experiences before he made it big in Hollywood. Mike is one of the dancers at Xquisite, a club that is full of screaming women who spend their nights leering at the beefcake and stuffing dollar bills into the dancers’ G-strings. Mike meets Adam (Pettyfer) at his day job and introduces him to the nightly paycheck of being a stripper. Adam is an immediate success on stage, but finds himself being drawn into an abyss of drug abuse.

“Magic Mike” is also a bit of a romance, with Mike falling for Adam’s sister (Cody Horn). She’s worried about her brother and hesitant to strike up a relationship with Mike, but like so many women in the real world, she finds herself being drawn in by Tatum’s ineffable charm. To be truthful, Tatum isn’t the best actor working today, but he does have an earnest quality that makes it easy to forgive some of his mannered performance.

This is all the more obvious whenever Matthew McConaughey takes the stage as the club’s owner, Dallas. He continues his career renaissance with a performance that is both playful and thoroughly seductive. Every ounce of his movie star charisma burns bright in this film. Mike may be the star of the story and Adam is the audience’s surrogate, but it’s Dallas who steals the show and reminds us why he was named the sexiest man on the planet a few years back.

“Magic Mike” may disappoint some because it’s not simply a female fantasy committed to celluloid, but there’s enough beef to delight the eyes and enough serious drama to engage the heart and the mind. This is a thoroughly enjoyable drama that’s worth checking out—even if you’re a guy who’s far more interested in those comic book movies that arrive in the next few weeks.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.