At the Movies - Nothing magical about Mike

Channing Tatum (centre) is Magic Mike.
Channing Tatum (centre) is Magic Mike.

There’s more magic in a Christmas cracker than there is in Steve Soderbergh’s new movie ‘Magic Mike’.

‘Magic Mike’ is loosely based on the real life experiences of leading man Channing Tatum (pictured above) who plays 30 something stripper Mike Lane.

It is believed that when he was 19 years-old, Tatum moved to Tampa (the setting for ‘Magic Mike’) where he worked as a male stripper before he was spotted by a talent scout. The rest, they say, is history.

‘Magic Mike’ tells the story of roofer by day, ageing stripper by night Mike (Tatum).

Mike lives a life of luxury and due to his exploits as Tampa’s number one male stripper he resides in a beach house over looking the ocean. Life couldn’t be any better.

When he’s not busy getting his clothes off in front hundreds of sexually frustrated women, Mike works as a roofer during the day. It’s here that he meets 19 year-old misfit Adam (Pettyfer).

Adam turned his back on a football scholarship when he got into a fight with his coach on the first day and as a result he’s forced to slum it on his sister Brooke’s (Cody Horn) sofa.

Mike takes Adam under his wing and after a little dab of opportunism Adam’s strutting his stuff on his stage with Mike at the Xquisite male strip club.

It’s at Xquisite that Adam is introduced to the welcomingly manic club owner and seasoned male stripper, Dallas.

What follows is largely predictable and the final act is so poorly put together that you’ll perhaps find yourself laughing it is so far-fetched.

On the surface of it, ‘Magic Mike’ could be described as ‘Show Girls’ for women.

It documents the superficiality of the male stripper and explains that despite the attention of hundreds of women, their existence can be often vacuous and almost without purpose.

Had Soderbergh chosen to focus more on this interesting aspect then it would have almost certainly have resulted in a much better movie.

Instead, Soderbergh crams Mike’s turmoil and unease with what his life has become into a 20 minute section at the end.

‘Magic Mike’ is arguably one of the most predictable films of 2012 so much so that within seconds of Brooke appearing on screen we know that both she and Mike are going to end up romantically involved.

If the plot’s predictability was not enough to leave you feeling disappointed then there is the performance of new comer Cody Horn as Adam’s sister Brooke.

Horn is so excruciatingly annoying that it’s totally implausible that Mike would pursue her.

Let’s face it, Mike can have almost any women he wants but the audience is supposed to buy that he is in someway interested in Brooke? It just doesn’t fly at all.

Brooke’s character is on the money but it’s the casting of Horn in the role that is not right.

When Horn and Tatum share screen time together we are supposed to believe that here are two people who fancy the pants off one another but instead you’re left thinking that more warmth and affection exists between Gerry Adams and Jim Allister.

Tatum is not bad as Mike but Pettyfur’s Adam is so predictably one dimensional that he makes a cardboard cut out of himself seem more life like.

The movie’s saving grace is McConaughey’s performance as veteran male stripper and club owner Dallas.

Only McConaughey could get away with wearing leather chaps and a cowboy hat - if it was anyone else it would look ridiculous.

Dallas is in pursuit of a fortune and despite the fact that he appears to be in his forties, he’s hell bent on taking his show to Miami to realise his dream.

McConaughey captures Dallas perfectly and his display resides snugly between the not over the top and the satisfyingly crazy.

It’s hard to believe that ‘Magic Mike’ comes from the same director that brought us ‘Contagion’, ‘The Informant’ and ‘Oceans 11’.

Be that as it may, it’s yet another example of just how versatile a director Soderbergh is but this time round we’re left feeling more like full Irish breakfast than Full Monty.

There’s nothing that magic about Mike, unfortunately.

Verdict - 2/5 - ‘Magic Mike’ threatens to become so much more than a movie about male strippers but unfortunately it never quite makes the leap. Tatum’s Mike is fine, Horn’s Brooke is horrific, Pettyfur’s Adam is poor but McConaughey’s Dallas is magnificent. Poor decision making by Soderbergh has cost him dearly and had he chosen to focus more on the vacuous existence of the male stripper then ‘Magic Mike’ might have been a movie to remember