Underwhelmed by ‘Magic Mike’

I really wanted to like “Magic Mike,” which is loosely based on actor Channing Tatum’s days as a male stripper, but his character is the only likable one in the entire film. That’s not enough.

Aside from the fact that the movie makes me feel absolutely terrible about the way I look (the perfectly sculpted men are basically Gods), the story line needs more work. We open to a delightful sight of Matthew McConaughey in his element onstage. He tells the girls the law prohibits them from touching his crotch or rear end but that “there are no cops in the house,” meaning the ladies can do whatever they please. He’s good at his job and likes what he does, but the same cannot exactly be said about Mike (Channing Tatum), a talented if not under-appreciated male stripper who runs a couple of businesses on the side. We’re told he wants more to life than his position at the dance club, and this left a bad taste in my mouth.

We figure out pretty early on that Mike does not want to take off his clothes for a living for the rest of his life, and I’m made to believe that this is supposed to be admirable. But it seems to knock on the industry as a whole. Is it so wrong that some people’s career aspirations revolve around stripping? “Magic Mike” doesn’t insult these folks, but does put them in a negative life.

This is true about Adam, a lost 19-year-old who doesn’t care about much and takes a job at Mike’s strip club. The work suits him well but he takes advantage of others and cannot stay out of trouble. His character comes across as ungrateful and bratty–not to mention one I just could not get behind. He progresses but not for the better of those around him. Meanwhile, Mike has to pay for his mistakes and selfish behavior.

Alex Pettyfer as Adam in “Magic Mike”

The romance between Tatum’s character and Adam’s sister is incredibly forced, almost to an insulting degree. I didn’t buy it for a second and really, really disliked the way she puts down Mike’s profession. Sure it’s not what he ultimately wants to be doing, but he doesn’t need someone to pass judgments on his work until he carves out another path. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected more from “Magic Mike” than ripped actors dancing in front of the camera. It sure is good for that, but little else.

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