Magic Mike

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Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 
  Magic Mike
Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 

Mike (Channing Tatum) sees himself as an entrepreneur, his hand in many pies to get the money together to start his custom-built furniture business, his dream job. One of his jobs is working for an all-male dance review, shedding his clothes to the delight of the femme customers. He takes a new young stud, whom he calls the Kid (Alex Pettyfer), and agrees to mentor the 19-year old in the ways of being a successful stripper like “Magic Mike.”

Robin:
Channing Tatum is on a roll this year, career-wise, with the successful TV series to movie reboot of “21 Jump Street” and the outré chick flick, “The Vow” (hey, it took in over $41 million its opening weekend!). Now, with “Magic Mike” taking in nearly $20 million its opening day, the young hunk has yet another hit.

Steven Soderbergh, as eclectic as ever (look up his filmography) with an amiable, easy-on-femme-eyes dance flick that couples good choreography, outstanding dancing and a likable lead in Tatum. The story takes place mainly at the Xquisite All-Male Dance Review – think Chippendales (Tatum was once one, BTW) – and “Magic Mike” is all about dance. There is a plot, of sorts, involving Mike, The Kid (whose name is Adam) and Brooke (Cody Horn), Adam’s protective sister. You know that there is a romance brewing here when Mike and Brooke first meet. You also know where this story is going almost from the start so you do not get burdened with a plot that would intrude on the dance, which is the draw for the film.

Mike promises Brooke that he will take care of Adam and act like his big brother to keep the teenager out of trouble. He does not do such a good job, thus creating tension between Mike and Brook that is supposed to jeopardize the romance. It is not much of a story but that is not what “Magic Mike” is about. It is about the energy and creativity of the many dance numbers and an amusing performance by fellow beefcake Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, the owner and master of ceremony of Xquisite.

Besides the four main characters – Mike, Adam, Brooke and Dallas – there is virtually no development for the supporting cast, including “True Blood’s” Joe Manganielli who is little more than a slab of meat on the dance floor. But, Soderbergh walks the line and comes up with a film that is surprisingly fun and entertaining. “Magic Mike” is the kind of chick flick that morphs well into a date flick. I give it a B-.

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack:

The Blu-ray edition of “Magic Mike” is being released and, while the film is still entertaining, the extras provided are meager with a behind-the-scenes featurette, a dance play mode (all the dances can be played back to back) and three extended and previously deleted dance scenes. While these additions are fun, more is really needed, like a voice over narration of the film by director Soderbergh and star Channing Tatum (that could have been a lot of fun) and a blooper reel seems obvious. One of the pleasures of having the Blu-ray of a film is the potential for a whole bunch of extra material. “Magic Mike” on Blu-ray falls short in this. I give it a C+.

Laura:
After a night of casual sex with friend Joanna (Olivia Munn, "I Don't Know How She Does It") and a second girl neither of them can remember, Mike (Channing Tatum) heads to his under-the-table construction job and meets 19 year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer, "I Am Number Four"), clearly out of his element.  Later that night when the kid spots him outside on the street, the older man takes him  under his wing again, introducing him to a world of fast money and women at Tampa, FL's Xquisite club, where he takes the stage as "Magic Mike."

He's had a slow build since 2006's "Step Up," but 2012 is the year of Channing Tatum.  The guy has the charm and confidence of a movie star and he's been making some very intelligent career choices.  When he mentioned his former experiences as a stripper to director Steven Soderbergh while shooting "Haywire," Soderbergh was intrigued and so Tatum and producing partner Reid Carolin got to work, with Reid penning a screenplay based on both his friend's young and more mature perspectives.  Contrary to what "Magic Mike's" trailer emphasizes, the film isn't a musical with umpteen strip routines.  Rather it's a cautionary tale about trying to take the easy road to achieve one's goals albeit one punctuated by scantily clad writhing male bodies.

Mike's been with Xquisite owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) longer than anyone and is his trusted headliner, promised a 10% equity for a planned move to the big time - Miami.  "Magic Mike" follows the action for the three months before the early September move.  Mike pushes the green Adam out on stage where 'he takes off his clothes like a 12 year-old in a locker room,' according to Dallas, but Adam jumps off the stage for some personal time with the two ladies he and Mike talked up earlier in the night and shows what he's made of.  Adam has an older sister, Brooke (Cody Horn, "Twelve"), a responsible medical assistant he's bunking with and she's alarmed by the new turn of events, although intrigued by Mike - especially after seeing his stage routine.  Mike, who's introduced himself to her as an entrepreneur (he dreams of a custom furniture business but can't get credit from the bank), begins his slow evolution, promising Brooke to take care of Adam and, in hoping to impress her, gradually toning down his lifestyle.  Of course, Adam's just a kid and he's sucked into the ecstasy scene by Nora (Riley Keough, "The Runaways") and pulled into a dope deal by Tobias (stand up comic Gabriel Iglesias) that goes all wrong and Mike has to make a deep personal accounting.

Although the cast also includes Joe Manganiello (HBO's 'True Blood'), Matt Bomer (TV's 'Chuck,' 'White Collar'), Adam Rodriguez (TV's 'CSI: Miami') and professional wrestler Kevin Nash as Big Dick Richie, Ken, Tito and Tarzan, this is no "Full Monty" - these guys aren't fleshed out characters, merely window dressing.  Manganiello, at least, gets his own visual gag involving a penis enlarger that pays off in perhaps the most jaw dropping routine involving him on stage behind a screen - is it live or is it "Boogie Nights?"  Tatum easily holds the screen whether's he's showing off those old hip hop moves or flustering female customers and loan officers.  He's a hustler with a heart.  Warner Brother's CEO daughter Horn holds her own as an upstanding young woman worth winning and Olivia Munn is her intriguing flip side.  Pettyfer's been a pretty face who, unlike Tatum, hasn't done much to impress, but he's humble here and it suits him.  He makes Adam a sympathetic screw up.  McConaughey continues his renaissance as an outwardly likable but laser-focused business man who enjoys keeping his own hat in the ring.

Soderbergh acts as his own DP, shooting everything through a dingy yellow haze suggesting things haven't weathered well, are run down and second rate.  Tampa may be a swinging town, but Miami is the glittering star.  The film's well paced and balanced between the titillation factor, comedy and drama.  A soft ending involves some nice sexual banter but leaves too many loose ends - the guy who promised to take care of the girl's little brother may be on a better path, but the kid's still on a rocky road.

B

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack:

The combo pack comes with a regular DVD and an HD Ultraviolet download as well as a Blu-ray disc, which includes the extras.  There aren't many, but what is included is undeniably a blast.  Still, one wonders about Soderbergh's absence and can only imagine how entertaining a commentary track, even one without him, may have been.

The disc is very easy to navigate and includes the usual scene selection option as well as Audio selections for English in 5.1 or 2.0, French or Spanish as well as subtitles in the same three languages.  The film itself is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio.  There are three special features.  The first is a short featurette, "Behind the Scenes:  Backstage on Magic Mike," which includes Channing Tatum talking about how the project was birthed.  The film's choreographer assures us that Tatum's dance moves are all him and mind-blowing even for her to watch.  The film's costume designer throws in some interesting points about tear-away pants noting that there were many wardrobe malfunctions both on and off the camera (who's up for a campaign for a deluxe edition featuring the wardrobe malfunction blooper reel???). The five male stars all talk about the camaraderie they developed learning to strip and look like they had a lot of fun making this movie.

The second feature is 'Dance Play Mode,' which enables the viewer to just watch all the dance sequences from the film.  Who needs to spend a lot of money on a batchelorette party now that this disc exists?  The deleted scenes are the 'Hot new extended dance scenes' noted on the cover and there are three.  More Joe Manganiello is a good thing, especially when he's painted gold as a Greek god wearing a thong.  The second features Matt Bomer entertaining the film's bride-to-be as a living Ken doll and the third is a treat for ladies who love a man in and out of uniform.  And although one wishes for more, here, what has been included is a heck of a lot of fun. A solid B for the home video release.

"Magic Mike" is being released by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group on Blu-ray Combo Pack for $35.99 and on single disc DVD for $28.98.  The Blu-ray Combo Pack features a hi-definition and standard definition copy of the film and UltraViolet; and the single disc DVD features a standard definition copy of the film and UltraViolet. UltraViolet allows consumers to download and instantly stream the standard definition theatrical version of the film to a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players.  It will be available on 10/23/2012.
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