He Said/She Said: A Two-Part Review of Magic Mike

One thing they agree on: Channing Tatum has got the moves.

Our regular movie blogger Aaron Mettey and guest writer Carrie Denny discuss buns, pecs, and whether you should take your mom to see Magic Mike.

He Said

It was too much for the guys sitting next to me. Before the movie they played along, talking about the hotness of Channing Tatum. But within moments, when Matthew McConaughey grabs his crotch and Tatum’s bare ass fills the screen, their threshold was exceeded. While the mostly female and gay audience went nuts, the guys merely groaned and averted their eyes. But how could they be surprised? After all, this is what had been promised: waxed, buff, thonged, man meat. Director Stephen Soderbergh and writer Reid Carolin try to infuse Magic Mike with a storyline, but it is hesitant and exists only to connect the many scenes of buns and pecs.

Mike (Tatum), the featured stripper at a Tampa club, takes the young Adam (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing. While Dallas falls for Adam’s older sister Brooke (Cody Horn), Adam is drawn to the easy money, partying, and women.

Tatum gives a strong and surprising performance: shining in his choreographed numbers (in both physique and dance ability) and in quiet moments. Even opposite Horn, who’s prone to overacting, Tatum still connects. But he, along with the sleezy but funny McConaughey and the underused Manganiello, Matt Bomer, and Alex Rodriguez, are not enough to make up for Magic Mike’s indecisiveness.

It is difficult to see Magic Mike and not compare it to 1997’s Boogie Nights. Each involves a young, good-looking guy getting introduced into a dangerous world of sex and drugs. But where Nights was dark and dangerous, Mike is tepid and timid. While Nights was pretty explicit, Mike—except for Big Dick Richie’s (Joe Manganiello) shadow performance and penis pumping—is somewhat tame. But if the movie is judged on glistening torsos alone, many will call it the best movie of the year.

Best Line:
After Adam is warned not to kiss the customers, “look out for herpes.”
Favorite Scene: Adam’s (Alex Pettyfer) first strip scene is unflinchingly funny.
Skeaze Factor (1-10): 7. Not all together skeazy, but McConaughey, bedecked in leather black pants, is really oily.
Should you take your boyfriend? Yes, if you both think Matt Bomer is dreamy. If not, he might enjoy the occasional boob shot, but he’d be far happier seeing the hilarious Ted instead.
Should you take your mom? Only if you’ve taken her to a male strip show in the past. Or, if you frequently watch Starz’s Spartacus together.
Who should/should not quit their day job? McConaughey seems a little too at ease in his role as Dallas.

My Grade: B-

She Said

Standing in front of me at the Ritz East’s parking kiosk after the screening of Magic Mike was a 40-something lady, still in her pencil skirt, twinset and office heels. She was obviously someplace far away in her mind, and she was muttering, “Magic MikeMagic MikeMagic Mike.”

So, yeah, I think the ladies are going to like this one.

And I have to say, I liked this one, too. I expected at the very least to have my attention held by the sight of (in particular order) Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughey sharing the same shots—and it was. Oh, it was.

But it’s actually not a bad movie. Channing Tatum can both act and dance. I genuinely cared about the characters and what happened to them. And I laughed in places other than when I was just incredulous or uncomfortable.

Bottom line: Ladies, gather yourselves together, pour a buttery Chardonnay into some thermoses, and get ye to the theater. It’ll be a good night.

Best Line: Every time Matthew McConaughey utters “All right, all right, all right” in that distinct drawl of his. It is exactly the way he said it 19 years ago in Dazed and Confused.
Favorite Scene: Tie: The first time Channing Tatum brings Alex Pettyfer backstage at the strip club, Joe Manganiello (and no, this man’s torso is not to be believed) is sitting—glasses perched halfway down his nose, cig hanging out of his mouth—at a sewing machine, sewing a gold lame thong, and it’s awesome. Also awesome is the first time Matthew McConaughey gives Alex Pettyfer a dancing “lesson,” which involves McConaughey in tiny black hot pants and a tiny yellow, cropped tank clasping Pettyfer’s hips to his own in front of the practice studio’s mirror and swiveling them around and around—shouting motivational, here’s-what-the-ladies-want-from-you instructions the whole time— until the little newcomer “gets” it.
Skeaze Factor (1-10): 5. It’s about stripping, but it’s really not that skeazy, except when they, um, touch the girls they’re dancing for.
Should you take your boyfriend? Why would you want to? If, for some reason, he’s being punished and you corner him into the theater, he should be comforted by knowing that there is actually a not-sucky plot to this thing outside all the gyrating that involves manly furniture and drug deals and teacup pigs and a sometimes-topless Olivia Munn. And isn’t Matthew McConaughey pretty much always entertaining to the straight male?
Should you take your mom? I was going to say it depends on what kind of mom you have, but you know what? I’m just going to go with no. That’s a lot of thrusting to watch alongside the woman who bore you. (Dear Mom, I’m sorry I just said thrusting.)
Who should/should not quit their day job? Well, let it be known that Channing Tatum has got some moves.

My Grade: B+