Despite a promising first third, Magic Mike does not seem to know what it wants to be and what story it wants to tell.
Mike is a thirty-year old roofer with various sidelines. While he tries to get his custom furniture business off the ground, Mike works as a male stripper. Adam, a young college drop out, is in need of money when he takes a job on the construction site alongside Mike. Seeing his promise, Mike decides to shows him the ropes…
Magic Mike works best in the opening forty minutes or so, where it balances light humorous moments with a sufficiently engaging plot. The shift in the middle third, where humour is swapped for a more serious atmosphere, is not a successful move. The main problem with Magic Mike is that it does not tell a convincing story. There is very little about the protagonist for the audience to get their teeth into. The crux of the narrative seems to be that he is more than just a stripper. The film offers little more than this other than a predictable journey of rookie stripper Adam.
Director Steven Soderbergh’s touch is apparent throughout the film, with the use of camera shots and angles. Soderbergh offers a little titillation in terms of the stripping routines, but reigns it back in so nothing too explicit is depicted. The scenes between protagonist Mike and love interest Brooke veer between inauthentic and cringe-inducing. This element, which is integral to the film, fails to engage viewers. Other tangents are half baked, and never really amount to anything.
Matthew McConaughey gives best performance of the lot as club owner Dallas. He brings a level of outrageousness really needed for the role. As Mike, Channing Tatum is awkward in his scenes with Cody Horn’s Brooke, who is terrible. Alex Pettyfer is suitably cast as Adam. The rest of dancers barely leave an impression, thanks to the minimal characterisation.
Magic Mike does not work as a tongue-in-cheek comedy romp to entice the ladies and gay gentlemen. As a drama, it is even more problematic.