Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Screenplay by: Reid Carolin
Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, Olivia Munn, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez, Gabriel Iglesias
The word “Magic” may not describe “Mike” as well as it does the 2012 bromance between director Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum, occurring not once but twice (Magic Mike following in close step behind Haywire). And what does a look into the world of male strippers have in common with a mixed martial action/thriller starring Gina Carano? Why Soderbergh and Tatum of course, knocking us out with some very impressive moves both behind and in front of the camera.
Tatum plays Mike, a would-be entrepreneur by day, headliner at a Chippendales-esque all-male revue by night. Other than wowing the crowds of besotted females throwing cash at him as fast as they can during his dance numbers at Tampa, Florida’s “Club Xquisite,” Mike works in construction and car detailing in order to eventually jumpstart his dream career of creating custom furniture. A goodhearted, hardworking guy, when he meets the rootless 19-year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) on a roofing job, Mike ends up taking him under his wing. But Adam isn’t quite as decent as Mike assumes; aside from his cool, smart sister (Cody Horn’s Brooke), Adam comes up short in a myriad of ways.
Don’t expect a musical, even though Soderbergh peppers the film with scintillating lifts from lots of tacky, prop-laden routines delivered by such sexual caricatures as The Fireman, Tarzan, The Hot Latino, et al. (And yes, we will get a routine to “It’s Raining Men.”) Don’t expect a backstage dressing-room drama (especially since the grimy kitchen where the dancers prep and dress is far from a proper backstage). Don’t expect a character drama, or a rom-com. Rather, with a smart script by Reid Carolin, it’s a well-balanced mix of all of the above, lightly connected to a coming-of-middle-age tale starring Mike, who’s on the path to finding his own true north … where the real magic lives.
Soderbergh is at his Soderbergh-ian best, with such idiosyncratic elements as wonderfully creative camera angles (e.g., a character’s POV from a supine position in a vehicle’s back seat as he looks at the driver, his vision partially obstructed by car seats); the odd orangey indoor lighting that he employed in 2009′s The Informant!; and the overlapping, realistic speech bordering on an improv sensibility, hearkening back to 1989′s Sex, Lies, and Videotape. If these last two films are any indication, it seems that the director is bent on discovering deeper, purer truths that express themselves physically, unfettered by words that often mask the underlying intent.
[For the full review on doddle, and Kimberly's rating, please click here]