Saturday, August 11, 2012

Magic Mike

Ride 'Em, Cowboy!

Fans of Channing Tatum wouldn't miss him much even if the summer blockbuster GI Joe: Retaliation is now undergoing some massive post production 3D, or as rumours have been buzzing about a major re-write and reshoot so as to have Tatum's character play an expanded role than originally intended. After all, his star is beginning to shine, and it would be foolish to write his character off. Thankfully then that Magic Mike did indeed make it to Singapore, and boy will it please his female fans to see a lot more than they would have bargained for, together with a number of hunks in a male revue to tease and titillate.

Based loosely on Tatum's own experiences as a male stripper when he was 19, Magic Mike takes us into the world of the men behind their persona and on-stage antics, which naturally comes complete with a full repetoire of phallic motions, pelvic thrusts and almost dry humping for customers who turn up in droves to watch their male fantasies in action. And there's some truth in what the owner of the Xquisite club, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), says about money being made from these fantasies, as he shows the ropes to rookie Adam (Alex Pettyfer), recruited by Tatum's titular character when they met during one of his many day jobs.

And for someone down and out, but willing to do anything it takes to earn a living, this lifestyle may seem like a good option to make that quick buck, parted easily when providing a little cock and tease to legions of screaming fans who want to have a piece of you. The given is to be blessed with good looks, with diligence put into hours of work out sessions to sculpt a body worthy of a god. And then with the right contacts and chance, the doors get opened. This is the tale of two men, one a self-appointed mentor to the other, and how some get led astray because of availability and opportunity.

But of course Adam's story comes packaged with the usual pitfalls that come to haunt those looking, and are eager for, quick success. The lifestyle of drugs, women, and money from illicit means rear their ugly head, as if to reinforce stereotypes of those engaged in the business that it comes part and parcel of, and it's extremely difficult to refuse unless one quits the scene totally. There are of course those, personified by Mike, who are in need as a means to get a different end, which in his case is to raise enough capital to get credit for a custom furniture business. Hopes and dreams also extend to relationships one try to establish, especially when they usually develop from something sexual, and are hardly the permanence anyone is looking for. For convenience, Adam's sister Brooke (Cody Horn) becomes the object of mutual attraction for Mike, as he figures out his on-off open relationship with Joanna (Olivia Munn).

Steven Soderbergh has crafted what would be one of his most profitable films to date, with production costing about 7 million, but having already raked more than 100 million at the box office. Shot in a style that's almost documentary in nature, the line is never crossed here, with those looking for hard sexual scenes needing to look elsewhere. Most of the time the performers stay very close to the line against indecency, with dry humping and simulated sex being routines of choice. Some portions of the film do turn dry at times, especially when scenes aren't centered at the men, but to develop the budding relationship between Brooke and Mike, and then explode when routines get their screen time. The dramatic scenes serve as fillers for the real feast for the eyes, and the revue sequences were definitely a lot more fun, with various uniformed routines bound to elicit laughter from all sections of the audience, and probably tease the female crowd at the same time as well.

Until Channing Tatum returns to street dancing like from his Step Up days, Magic Mike is probably the closest a dance fan can watch him in action, or for his fanbase to catch some of the routines he had probably performed when he had yet to burst onto the Hollywood scene. His acting, like most of the guys here save for McConaughey, still requires more work, but boy this guy still got the moves.

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