Dave White
Magic Mike Review

Dave's Rating:

3.5

Heaven knows they're miserable now.

Think you want to see this one for all the naked butts? All the titillating man-tits? Then the joke's on you. Think you don't want to see this one for the same reasons? Then the joke's on you, too.

Blame trailers and marketing, so eager to cash in with an opening weekend audience of women and gay men. They teased you with the frosting instead of showing you the cake. Because this isn't really a movie about the seamy, sexy, nighttime world of the male stripper. It's a film about the economic collapse. It's a film about working and failing at work. It's a film about being trapped. It's a film about horrible banks and malaise and not getting by. And that whole red-band trailer with Joe Manganiello's prosthetic Boogie Nights appendage? Bait and switch.

You can feel it from the beginning. The scenes not set on the stage of the small, tacky, Tampa male revue focus on a cramped backstage area populated by half a dozen disconnected men crammed into what looks like a dressing room hacked from an abandoned kitchen. When they leave the place with their crumpled bills, they walk out into a world of washed out, hepatitis cinematography. You can try to focus your attention on Channing Tatum, if that's your thing, but he looks yellow, too. Director Steven Soderbergh has taken the theme of using what you got to get what you want, the same one he explored with porn star Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience, and amplified the financial disappointment for 2012's ongoing Great Recession. There's no sexy, voyeuristic crash-and-burn story to see here, it's too smart a movie for that. Think of it more like a really bummed out Norma Rae with no union coming to the rescue.

Tatum stars as Mike, always on the make trying to jump-start his custom furniture business. He knows what he's talking about, dropping names like Russel Wright and Heywood Wakefield, yet he's never seen making any actual tables or chairs. Instead he dances for cash, he has three-ways with his go-to bisexual friend-with-benefits Joanna (Olivia Munn), he scouts Adam (Alex Pettyfer) to come dance in the show and he scouts Adam's grumpy sister Brooke (Cody Horn) as a possible girlfriend.

It's only when he steps outside of the environment where he's king does he realize that he's going nowhere, like a 2012 Tony Manero. He controls the condition of his truck for higher resale, he flattens his money under blocks and keeps it in a safe, but his credit rating is in the toilet and he can't get a small business loan because he's in financial "distress." And it's not just him. When these strippers party on sandbars or drink and hump their way through lazy weekend hurricane parties, all anyone talks about is Jim Cramer's Mad Money or the latest "Rich Dad Poor Dad" seminar they went to. And the point? That is the point. You're stuck here. The corporations and the banks are going to make sure of that. Nobody's having any fun and nobody's getting out.

Sorry to spoil the bachelorette party.

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