There are very few topics that haven’t yet been explored by a vast variety of films. But when it comes to men taking off their clothes for a living one struggles to come up with films really dealing with it. Although I wouldn’t have thought so, male stripping seems to be an under-represented issue in films. Oscar and Palme D’Or winning director Steven Soderbergh now puts the topic on the map. His new film Magic Mike stars plenty of half naked men thrusting their pelvises in order to make the all female audience scream hysterically…
Mike (Channing Tatum) is a construction worker during the day and the star of the strip club Xquisite at night. The ambitious 30-year old beau, is trying to save money for his customized furniture business but has seemingly no problem with his current life either. When he meets 19-year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) he introduces the college dropout to the stripping profession. The broke novice immediately fits in with the all-male staff’s rough backstage behaviour and quickly improves his dance moves. While Adam gets caught up in the Xquisites world of drugs, sex, G-Strings and money Mike slowly begins to move on. Fuelled by his attraction to Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn) Mike’s views slowly become more critical, especially compared to Adams naïve ways.
Although the plot and ending of Magic Mike are predictable and not particularly exciting, Soderbergh managed to create an interesting film. This is mostly due to the well-developed characters that are nowhere near as one-dimensional as they seem in the trailer and synopsis. Mike’s seemingly perfect shell cracks open a little more with every scene. Searching for more than he’s admitting to, he struggles to answer the questions Brook provokes and begins overthinking his choices. Adam’s coming of age journey is interesting to observe. Surely making mistakes every step of the way, he still somehow succeeds in awakening his ambition, even if it’s currently “only” for stripping. And then there’s Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) the Xquisites aging owner and sleazy presenter of the show. He is an exciting screen-presence and for the first time McConaughey’s orange-golden glowing skin, comes in handy instead of making it impossible to view him as a serious actor and some are even speaking about an Oscar-worthy performance.
Magic Mike is no masterpiece that moves you deeply or offers new perspectives on the current state of the world. However after The Full Monty, which showed men stripping for a certain cause in a more than amateur way, it is the first film that deals with the topic. It puts it on the map where we usually only see women taking of their clothes. Female strippers have been a topic or background for decades, so maybe we can see this as a first step towards gender equality in the objectification of bodies.
The audiences are mainly straight women and gay men so objectives for watching Magic Mike are fairly clear. Although there is a layer underneath the naked flesh, the muscles are what made the film a smash hit at the US box office (taking in $ 39.2 Million in the first weekend). So whatever your reason may be it’s worth taking a look, although if you want to see a great piece of cinema you’d be better off watching Sex, Lies and Videotape, because unlike Soderberghs 1989 debut Magic Mike won’t win any mayor Festival awards.