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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Magic Mike

Wildly entertaining dancing (and stripping) underscored by some impressive performances.
By Tom Glasson
July 26, 2012
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Magic Mike

Wildly entertaining dancing (and stripping) underscored by some impressive performances.
By Tom Glasson
July 26, 2012
  shares

The lights drop, the cinema falls silent, and Channing Tatum's butt cheeks fill the screen. Either Ice Age 4 went in a bold new direction, or this is Magic Mike.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Magic Mike is a film about male strippers. It wants to be more than that; it wants to be a tale of temptation, immorality and even love, but at its heart (and butt) it remains all about the stripping, which is actually a good thing.

Based largely on Tatum's own experiences as an 18-year-old football star turned stripper, Magic Mike follows the eponymous leading man as he teases and tantalises scores of screaming women inside Florida's raunchy Xquisite strip club. The costumes are outrageous; the routines, even more so; and every performer's body is sculpted, buffed, waxed, and spray-tanned to perfection. It's a film where, unlike The Full Monty, the stripteases are played to impress rather than amuse, and thanks to some exceptional choreography, they stand out as the best scenes.

Tatum also produced Magic Mike, though he cast British actor Alex Pettyfer to play the semi-autobiographical role of Adam. Together they achieve a believable chemistry, with Tatum the charismatic mentor and Pettyfer the naive rookie first drawn to and then corrupted by the allure of sex, drugs, and Village People. The true star of Magic Mike, however, is club owner Dallas, played to ostentatious perfection by Matthew McConaughey. Maintaining his unbeaten run as 'most shirtless actor in Hollywood', McConaughey combines caricature with calculated menace in a performance that could well earn him an Academy Award nomination.

Ultimately, there's not a whole lot of plot to speak of, and despite a few dark scenes, it's certainly one of Soderbergh's most lightweight pictures. That said, Magic Mike is also terrifically engaging and marks another big tick against Tatum's name, whose recent string of hits might finally have the naysayers biting their tongues.

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