From Sex, Lies and Videotape to Ocean’s 11 (12 and 13), director Steven Soderbergh has made a pretty eclectic bunch of movies. Now he adds the world of male striptease to his list of subjects with Magic Mike.
What Mike (Channing Tatum) really wants to be is a furniture-maker producing one-off pieces from flotsam and jetsam he finds on the beach close to his home. But in order to set up his own company, he needs money and there’s plenty of that to be had for a guy with a good body who is willing to strip on stage. That’s exactly what Mike does at Club Xquisite run by fellow stripper Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).
After a chance meeting with young Adam (Alex Pettyfer) Mike introduces him to the strip scene and thus a new star is born. Soon Adam (AKA The Kid) and Mike are bosom buddies, but the money, the booze, drugs and girls soon all go to Adam’s head, much to the consternation of his sister Brooke (Cody Horn) who is not impressed by Adam’s friendship with Mike or Mike’s lifestyle or choice of career.
This movie is a bit of a guilty pleasure, like eating digestives in bed and liking the feel of the crumbs between the sheets. It’s no great work of art but it has a raw, pumping energy and one stand out performance from McConaughey, who has obviously decided after a decade of playing the romantic lead it was about time to take on more interesting roles. Although there is definitely too much of the boys strutting their stuff on stage, the scenes away from the nightclub are nicely played and the attraction between Mike and Brooke and their nascent relationship feels very natural and understated, which counterbalances all the testosterone fizzing about elsewhere.
Soderbergh has said this will be his final film. Let’s hope not because there are still plenty of genres he has yet to explore, and on the evidence of his back catalogue, he could bring something new and interesting to all of them.