Tatum shines in Magic Mike with his clothes on and off

Jul 13, 2012

Soderbergh's enjoyable male stripper romp is more than ab-deep, but will there be a 3D version?

What you need to know
Comedy-drama Magic Mike is directed by Steven Soderbergh (Sex Lies and VideotapeContagion). The story is reportedly based on the real-life experiences of co-producer and lead actor, Channing Tatum, who worked as a male stripper before his acting career took off.

Tatum plays Mike, an experienced stripper who introduces a young friend to his business and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making money, before questioning his own way of life.

Matthew McConaughey (recently in Killer Joe) plays strip club manager Dallas. Alex Pettyfer plays Adam, Mike's protégé. Cody Horn plays Mike's love interest Brooke.

What the critics like
Steven Soderbergh manages to get sensational performances out of all three of his leading men in Magic Mike, "while removing their clothes", says Tim Robey in The Daily Telegraph. Tatum nails his role, Pettyfer is engaging, and McConaughey  is "never less than hilarious". This is "a classy film on a tacky subject", that's more than ab-deep, and "transcends every possible expectation".

Magic Mike is Soderbergh having fun, but it's still a serious picture, says Kim Newman in Empire. On the surface it might seem like a male remake of Showgirls, and it could become "the girls' night out cult of the decade".

But while Tatum will get attention for bending over in a thong, he shows an intelligence and sensitivity that other filmmakers have missed. This is a "brilliantly written, subtly played" film, "terrific entertainment with a sideline in wry melancholia and testosterone-fuelled philosophy".

Soderbergh has made a funny, enjoyable romp about male strippers and the American dream, says Manhola Dargis in The New York Times. What could have been an embarrassing misfire ends up a smooth collaboration that balances Tatum's "heat and charm" with Soderbergh's "cool, cinematic intelligence". It works "beautifully".

McConaughey steals the show, says Cath Clarke in Time Out. He throws himself do-or-die into the role of the "cock-rocking" messiah of male stripping. "Now, all we need is for some bright spark to come along with a 3D version."

What they don't like
The movie begins with pizzazz, says Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times, but soon sinks under the weight of its emotional shortcomings and moralistic tone. The romance element between Mike and Brooke (a woman seemingly immune to his charms) is "dead on arrival". If Soderbergh had paid "as much attention to relationship dynamics as he does to dance number mechanics" this film might have really been magic.

Sign up for our daily newsletter