“The law says do not touch…but I tell you what…I see a lot of lawbreakers in here tonight-and I don’t see a cop in sight.”
So proclaims Dallas, played by a delightfully sleazy Matthew McConaughy (The Lincoln Lawyer) Owner and Founder of Xquisite the Tampa male stripper bar that becomes the focus of Magic Mike. It sets the stage for the movie’s delightfully blunt assessment of their main stars profession; yes, this is a form of sex work (even if penetration isn’t part of the official menu) and yes, the “boys” deliver it better than anyone else.
The showroom includes the titular Magic Mike, (Channing Tatum), Big Dick Richie who lives up to his name in part through the use of a pump (Joe Manganiello of True Blood), Latin Hottie Tito (Adam Rodriguez, CSI: Miami), Ken who does an actual male doll act (Matt Bomer of White Collar), Muscleman Tarzan (Kevin Nash of Wrestlemania), and Adam the Kid (Alex Pettyfer from I am Number Four).
This movie may have more eye candy for female gazing than anything else ever put on camera and the performance acts are both hilarious as well as aesthetically pleasing. Apparently the cast improvised a lot of their own moves which especially makes sense given that Channing Tatum worked as a male stripper before breaking out into film. His insider knowledge may have helped give the film the smaller touches that made it seem more real, like watching one of the dancers hem a gold lame thong on a sewing machine right before the show.
But Channing brings far more to the role of Mike than just technical expertise and beefcake; he imbues his character with a sensitive soulful side as well. Alex Pettyfer by contrast as Adam is just bringing the pretty though admittedly he does that very VERY well. From seeing Adam make his debut to “Like a Virgin” to the whole gang doing “It’s Raining Men,” to Dallas’s solo country western ballad, the film might as well be women’s porn; but unlike most porn there’s actually a plot.
Dallas is all hyped to set up a bigger shop in Miami at the end of summer and to sweeten the pot to his “dancers” he holds out the promise of equity in the new shop as well. While Adam the Kid has just started the business and for him it’s all fun and games, the older Mike has started to see the sheen wear off and wants a retirement plan that he hopes Dallas’s vague promises of equity can bring him. In the meantime, Mike continues to wow the ladies with his heartfelt performances and awesome dance moves while keeping time with psychology student Joanna (Olivia Munn) who shares his fondness for threesomes. Things between them sour with when Mike displays interest in something like actual emotional connection with Joanna (one of the movies smarter points is that it acknowledges that women not only possess carnal appetites as well as men but, given the opportunity, are equally capable of being the exploiters in a relationship). Mike bonds with his new protégé Adam’s sister Brooke (Cody Horn, a nicely grounded presence here) who doesn’t approve of their profession. And while we are first seduced by the scene, in the end, like Mike, we see it her way; body glitter isn’t gold.