It's crazy to oversell
So what is it, then? Inspired by star and producer
The characters don't treat one another like punch lines or idiots. There are no real villains in the piece. Purest corn, "Magic Mike" nonetheless has a human pulse and a sense of humor to go along with its willingness to entertain.
Tatum first worked with the frenetically prolific Soderbergh on the eccentric and (metaphorically) stripped-down
Soderbergh's also terrific at letting his actors play up to the best of their abilities, whatever their abilities. This is a polite way of saying Tatum, as the construction worker by day who works constructively in a different line of work by night, has never been better. Even if he's not much of an actor — when things get serious, Tatum appears to be giving birth, painfully, to the simplest of lines of dialogue — he's increasingly comfortable and likable on screen.
In no time Mike is introducing The Kid to the wonderful world of the Club Xquisite, where Mike and cohorts bump it, grind it and thong it for the ladies and for the financial well-being of their employer/wrangler, an ex-stripper named Dallas. This Lone Star satyr is played by
One of the pleasures of "Magic Mike" is its egalitarian spirit and dedication to the ensemble. The budding romance between Mike and The Kid's big sister, played by Cody Horn, who has no visible performance nerves of any sort, provides a hook on which to hang everything else. As Mike wrestles with his business ambitions and strives to prove to The Kid's protective sister that he's more than just a slab of meat, The Kid is led into temptations. Luckily Soderbergh handles these developments lightly. My favorite scene is the one, oddly, most like Soderbergh's "Che": a day trip out to a sandbar for a picnic, which becomes an occasion for the audience to eavesdrop on one conversation, then another, in free-form, essayistic style. Nothing much happens to advance the plot, but like some of the jungle training sequences in "Che," parts of a whole emerge naturally, a few connections are made and the film moves on.
Mainstream audiences may wish for more — more thump in the
'Magic Mike' -- 3 1/2 stars
MPAA rating: R (for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use)
Running time: 1:50