The Tao of the Thong
Since all of the male (where are the ladies?) critics at the Weekly avoided reviewing this film for reasons only the Great Bearded Light Above understands, I’ve taken it upon myself to analyze and report back, withholding nothing about the social commentary and deep humanism of Magic Mike.
But don’t think our reviewing team didn’t see the movie. I’ve heard rumors of Bob Green sitting under a Navajo blanket in the back of Pearl City Highlands 12, sipping brandy and hugging his dog; Don Wallace and the rest of his football team, pretending to be in the wrong theater but staying through the credits; Robert Pennybacker in the front row wearing a wig, but that’s because it was Wig Wednesday. Bottom line: People went for one reason–The Bottom.
Magic Mike isn’t only two hours of abs and ass, although it is almost that; there’s a lot of choreography and a little plot thrown in, too, and if you go in with expectations low enough, you just might have a good time. Channing Tatum stars as “Magic” Mike Lane, the 30-something central stripper at Xquisite, who really wants out of the leather thong and into his own furniture business and so trains a cocky 19-year-old to take his place.
From young Adam’s entrance (Alex Pettyfer) it’s immediately clear that Magic Mike was written on the deeper level of a 6th-grader; director Steven Soderberg wants to embody the innocence of American youth. Is it a coincidence that Adam the Stripper has the same name as the first man in the Bible? Well, this Adam also possesses the ability to walk around without his clothes until finding trouble with his snake. And Tatum shows an audience that he is more than a big neck with a face on the front of it. The way he uses his “necktatum” (like a cankle, except on a neck) as a representation of the entire male stripper industry, with Tatum’s little face, pleading for help, lost in all of that meat around it, is Oscar Mayer-worthy.
When you find out that Magic Mike is a fictionalized account of Tatum’s real life as a stripper in Tampa, it’s like everything you already thought about Tatum was true and good. Still, the real buck-banger is Matthew McConaughey. If you were to ask me, “Who would you cast as an orange, sweaty, leathery male strip club owner named Dallas?” I would say McConaughey before you were done with the question. This might be his best/least-stretch-of-the-imagination of a role since he played David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused. Remember when Tom Cruise played that fat guy in Tropic Thunder and stole the show? This is McConaughey’s version.
But Magic Mike is more than another excuse for McConaughey to take off his shirt. The problem is that he isn’t in every scene, and the movie turns repetitive quickly. It’s also a little too long, by about seven inches. To be fair, the movie’s message is about more than what’s in Channing Tatum’s pants, ladies. As Chris Farley’s Chippendales dancer or the cast of the Full Monty remind us, strippers are people, too. Some of them just want a better life.