I think it’s time to reconsider my career options.
Veteran stripper Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) teaches a novice (Alex Pettyfer) about the occupation while seeking a lifestyle outside the world of stripping with the help of his protégé’s sister (Cody Horn). They work at the club Xquisite, which is owned by the former stripper Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).
I have to admit it, a “male stripper movie” is not necessarily aimed towards my demographic. Young, straight, sexy *cough cough*, male that prefers the men around him to keep their clothes on. But ”male stripper movie” directed by Steven Soderbergh is right up my alley.
Yes, the same Steven Soderbergh that is known for such flicks like Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven, Out of Sight, and Contagion, amongst others, is now doing a flick where it focuses on the life-style where dudes take their clothes off, get half-naked, dance around, get dollar bills thrown at them, and give lamp-dances to some lucky ladies in the audience. Really frickin’ strange that Soderbergh somehow found cinematic inspiration in that idea but he pulls it off here, somewhere, somehow.
What I liked most about this flick is that it has the perfect style of a Soderbergh flick. The camera has a very distinct look to it where the night-life is full of exotic and wild colors coming from every end of the area, whereas the regular, everyday life is full of this grayish look that makes everything seem like the sun hasn’t come out for days and is just trapped behind this huge-ass cloud that won’t move. There’s also a couple of other cool camera tricks here as well where Soderbergh does a couple of neat static shots that make you feel like you’re right there. Come to think of it, other than the stripping scenes, he barely moves the camera at all and that’s what was really cool about Soderbergh is how he just allowed the story to do the talking itself and just kept his camera right there. Crazy how directors can put their own little stamps on anything they do and make it work, just as long as they aren’t getting in the way of anything.
However, this isn’t a film that’s all about Soderbergh’s verité style, it’s about the men and their clothes getting ripped off in front of hundreds and hundreds of horny women and that’s exactly what this film delivers! Woo-hoo! The first time we get a full show of what goes on with the actual show itself, is probably some of the most fun I’ve had at the movie theater in so damn long. Really, I never would have ever in my right mind thought that I would be having so much fun watching a bunch of dudes rip their clothes off, but I couldn’t help but feel the same excitement that every single one of the ladies around me felt as well. Now of course my excitement was a different kind of one compared to theirs, but whenever these guys came out and started dancing and doing their thing, a certain type of energy just came-out of this film and it was almost infectious.
I don’t know what got over me, or my good buddy Paulie that I saw this with (also young, straight, sexy, and a male), but every time these guys went out on-stage, a smile just went right on my face and I just enjoyed the hell out of myself. It also helped that the crowd I was with loved the sight of half-naked dudes running rampant all-over-the-stage as well so it created this vibe that made me feel like I was actually at a male strip-club with them, just watching the show. These scenes aren’t taking so seriously either and I caught myself laughing hysterically at what I was seeing with all of these shows. And when you have a director like Soderbergh, that’s something surprising because he could have easily made all of these specific scenes just come off as some of the most depressing things to ever grace the screen, but he lets it all roll and have a good time as if he was the club promoter himself. Who knows, maybe that’s what he does in his spare time. Actually, that would make him the busiest man in Hollywood considering he makes about 3 movies each year, so no, never mind about that claim.
But underneath all of the glitz and the glamour of this life that is shown, there is also a story that grounds it all out. Yes, the film does have a story that’s somewhat dramatic but it’s handled well and focuses on Mike as he tries to help this kid out with making it big and also try to do what he wants to do and get out of the stripping business. All sounds very cliched and predictable, which it does get after awhile, but the film handles this story with such emotional honesty that it’s hard not to fall for it and believe everything it’s throwing at you. Believe it or not, this story does actually get dark but not too dark, to the point of no return. It gets just dark enough to where it can eventually lift itself back-up with another lap-dance or two. Hey, can’t go wrong with that.
If there was one big problem I had with this flick that kept me away from giving it a 9, it was that the story does get very predictable by the end and doesn’t really tell us anything new we haven’t already seen from flicks that are just like this. A theme like having too much, too soon is shown in countless other flicks like Saturday Night Fever, Boogie Nights, Goodfellas, and even a lesser-known one, Middle Men, and it’s shown here with the same exact precision, and same exact results. Tried to be a cautionary tale, but in the end, it didn’t matter whether or not we got the message, we just wanted to have fun, which is exactly what we had.
2012 will probably go down in the books as the best year of Channing Tatum‘s life. Honestly, this guy has been kickin’ ass this whole year with Haywire (another film by Soderbergh), The Vow (I know I’m the minority on that one), 21 Jump Street, what was supposed to be G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and now this. This is basically Tatum’s story because it was based off of his experiences and what better person to play the lead, then the person who knows it best. Tatum is great in this role as Magic Mike because he plays up every single emotion we have ever seen him play, ever. He’s funny, he’s sad, he’s inspired, he’s horny, he’s drunk, he’s high, he’s mad, he’s happy, and most of all, he knows how to freakin’ dance. Holy shit man! I know that this kid could dance from his days in Step Up, but he really lets it all-out here and shows that he can not only back his good-looks up with some acting chops, but also some nice dance moves that will absolutely knock your socks off once you see what he pulls off. Seriously, I got frickin’ jealous. And that never happens because I know I’m in such a better shape than that chump will ever be in.
Playing his kinda-sorta love-interest, Cody Horn is alright here but she’s a little stiff with her line delivery as it seems like she doesn’t know what to say next to all of the shit Tatum says and actually does. Her character was also one of those stand-offish types of people that didn’t approve of something that one person did, so they continue to lecture them and try to show their disapproval for all that they do. Lame! Playing her little bro in this movie, Alex Pettyfer shows some real skill as an actor with a role that will hopefully get his name out there more than it did last year with bombs like I Am Number Four and Beastly. Sheesh!
But the one cast member that I couldn’t stop thinking about when this whole movie was over, was in fact, Matthew McConaughey playing the sleazy club owner, Dallas. Here’s the thing with McConaughey: he’s talented, has great comic delivery, looks great, and knows how to act whenever a flick needs him to. The problem is, he always gets himself stuck in the same, old rom-com roles that do nothing for him other than make him look like an utter fool. Thankfully, he’s back in full-action with his role here and shows that he can do it all. He totally plays up that party-boy act we all know and love him for, but there’s also something very dark deep-down inside of all of it, a darkness that actually gets shown more and more as the film progresses. This is great to see McConaughey go through with this character because whenever he’s funny and having a good time, he made me laugh my ass off, but whenever he got mad and you could tell his character meant business, I got scared shitless, wondering just what the hell he was going to do next. That’s how great this role is for him and he plays it up all so perfectly. So perfectly, that he may even come by with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor come around February of 2013. But that’s a stretch, I know.
Oh, and for all of you wrestling fans out there, Kevin Nash is also up in this bitch playing a huge male-stripper that goes by the name of Tarzan. Have no idea why the hell he’s in this, but at least he’s getting some line of work.
Consensus: Even though the story may get predictable by the end, Magic Mike is still a flick that has fun with its premise and fills it with sleaze, humor, raunch, glitz, glamour, great performances from the cast, and plenty of memorable stripping sequences that will surely have you inspired to go out there and try and work that pole like no other. Then again, maybe not.
If only life was played to the music of Def Leppard, then all girls would feel the need to pour some sugar on me. If you know what I mean.
This movie tells the story of small town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and city boy Drew (Diego Boneta), who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. Their rock ‘n’ roll romance is told through the heart-pounding hits of Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Whitesnake, and more.
I’ve never been a big fan of the 80′s but from time to time, I’ll find myself rocking out to a couple of hair metal tunes like “Cherry Pie”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, and plenty of others. So the idea of having a musical taking place around that era and focusing on that music, didn’t really have me reaching out for my “nostalgia money” but hey, nostalgia isn’t all that bad.
Director Adam Shankman is a guy who knows how to do musicals and bring out the most energy in them. Everything looks so colorful, the dance numbers have people running all over the place while pulling off some neat Michael Jackson-like moves, the editing is choppy but gives the film this frantic feel to it, and a hell of a lot of camp to be had here as well. I mean whenever anybody talks about the 80′s, you can’t get past the fact that everything in that era was just so corny and goofy, but also, so perfect for that time period. That aspect is what this film plays off of and I think Shankman did a pretty damn good job recreating this era to the point of where I felt like I actually was watching a story in the 80′s, not just a dramatization on what might have been.
But if you’re going to see this film, you’re not going to be bothered with the camp of purty colors that are on display. Nope. You’re definitely going to be seeing this film because you love 80′s music, or just music in general and if that is the case, then this is a perfect fit for your music loving heart. Every time the film would start to get lame and focus on its “story”, a kick-ass musical number would just come right in to bring my attention back onto the screen, get my feet tapping, and simulate all of drum parts for each and every song. Everybody in the theater that I was with, kept looking at me but I didn’t care because I just could not help myself once people starting belting out lyrics to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, “I Wanna Rock”, and even, yes, “I Want to Know What Love Is” (hey, don’t judge that song can get to you, man). Some of the songs aren’t used in the right context here and some even weren’t made yet by the time that this film takes place in, but either way, I could not stop rocking out and I came to realize that the 80′s was a pretty cool time for music. Never thought I’d be saying that.
The problem with this film is that whenever people aren’t jamming out to some choice tracks, everything starts to get boring and terribly dull. The center story, that the rest of the film takes place around, is beyond cliché where we see a young girl come all the way to Hollywood to be a huge singer, only to fall in love with another young, up-and-comer. Boring! This is something we have all seen done before and nothing else is really changed here with the exception that this love is surrounded by 80′s tracks, but even they couldn’t get my head past the weak-ass story. I actually think I dozed off a couple of times, only to be awoken by the loud, thunderous sounds of the music that would bring all of the fun this movie needed.
The film also doesn’t have much to say about the 80′s, let alone the music that took over this decade. Maybe I was going for something more than what I really needed from a musical like this but I think that the film could have done more with it’s whole 80′s premise, rather than just showing us how cool it was. It would have been a nice mixture of Rock Star and Hairspray, and even though that may not sound so wickedly cool and fun, it still would have offered more insight to its decade than this film did. Also, 2 hours and 4 minutes is sort of pushing it a little too long, especially when you have a musical that’s just strictly for the 80′s crowd.
What really made this film such a blast though, aside from the 80′s tracks, was the strange ensemble that came out believable and made this film a whole lot better. Malin Akerman is delightful and sexy as the “Rolling Stone” reporter that gets involved with a big-time rocker; Mary J. Blige may not be the best actress out there but she sure as hell can sing, which that’s all this film needs; Paul Giamatti is slimy and slightly evil as Paul Gill, but who else could play that type of character; Catherine Zeta-Jones is over-the-top as Patricia Whitmore, the wife of the Mayor, but is entertaining and has one sick-ass dance number that brought me back to her Chicago days; and Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand both have a lot of fun with each other as the two club owners, but I think needed more time on-screen as well. As for our little tikes in the leads, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, they are delightful to watch but kind of get blown out of the water by this phenomenal supporting cast. Mainly, one in particular.
Tom Cruise as hair metal icon Stacee Jaxx, was not only a perfect bit of casting for Mr. Cruise here but also the best part of this whole movie. Lately, Cruise has been taking more and more roles that show him sort of making fun of his own image and this is one of those roles where he gets to play around a bit with that image, but also be able to release his inner rocker. His voice may sound a little too weak for some of these songs that he performs, but it doesn’t matter because the guy takes over the screen whenever he’s on and also has a pretty credible character arc to him as well. It’s nothing like Magnolia, but it’s still the only arc for any character in this movie and it’s used well because it’s Tom Cruise dammit! Honestly, Tom Cruise has one last, big Oscar for him somewhere and even though it may not be this role, I know it’s still coming up soon regardless.
Consensus: Rock of Ages may have a weak story that makes the era its portraying more dull than it has any right to be, but the non-stop 80′s tracks are filled with energy and fun, and feature some great performances from this impressive ensemble cast of characters, especially an intense Tom Cruise.