In the months since the trailer first arrived in theaters, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had Magic Mike described to me as the “Channing Tatum male stripper movie.” While Channing Tatum does play a male stripper, the movie is actually much more than that, with only about 15 minutes of the runtime containing actual stripping. Inspired by Tatum’s past experiences as a stripper, Magic Mike goes well beyond G-strings. The script by Reid Carolin is involving—sharp, witty and sad. Director Steven Soderbergh adeptly takes the story into an unexpectedly dark place.
Michael Lane (Tatum) is an entrepreneur in the making. During the day he works in construction and auto detailing. By night, he takes it all off as “Magic Mike” at Tampa’s Xquisite strip club. Mike’s dream is to start a custom furniture business, but he has to raise enough cash to improve his credit score before that can become a reality. For now, Mike is 30 years old and Xquisite’s top attraction. When a wayward 19-year-old named Adam (Alex Pettyfer) shows up at Mike’s construction job, Mike agrees to help him out. Mike introduces Adam to his world at Xquisite. Now referred to as “the Kid,” Adam is thrown on stage to the strains of “Like a Virgin” and clumsily takes off his clothes. Initially bewildered, the Kid quickly finds himself enjoying the energy of the gawking females. The Kid takes a liking to Mike’s lifestyle of women, sex, drugs and the illusion of total freedom. (“I think we should be best friends,” he tells Mike a few days after popping his stripper cherry.) Adam’s new lifestyle doesn’t thrill his older sister Brooke (Cody Horn) who is very protective of her brother. Along with sleazy club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), the revue cast includes “Big Dick Richie” (Joe Manganiello), “Tarzan” (Kevin Nash of the WWE) and Matt Bomer’s Ken. While Dallas talks a good game when it comes to cutting Mike into the profits when the club moves to Miami, Dallas’ allegiances change with the wind.
In 21 Jump Street, Channing Tatum proved that he actually had some acting and comedic chops. Prior, I had thought of Tatum as pleasant eye candy. Magic Mike only proves that his acting skills are continuing to improve. He actually shows some real range here, moving from comedy to drama. Tatum is developing into a truly charismatic guy. Mike is smarter than the other strippers, but he’s not as smart as he likes to think he is. Tatum does a good job of conveying Mike’s insecurities and limitations. By contrast, Pettyfer shows his lack of range as the film progresses. We see his character making increasingly troublesome decisions, but his personality is never quite as developed as it should be.
Despite Pettyfer’s undercooked performance, Tatum and a slick Matthew McConaughey make Magic Mike a surprisingly engrossing watch. Working double duty as eye candy for the ladies and a smart comedy with some dark undertones, Magic Mike is a fine film.
Steven Soderbergh employs Red Epic HD cameras to create a very sleek image, that’s accurately recreated on the Blu-ray. Presented at 2:40:1, this 1080p transfer sports an almost hazy appearance at times, but it appears intentional. The color and detail real shine through when we’re inside Xquisite. Despite the absence of film grain, the movie has a pleasing, theatrical feel. I did notice some minor macroblocking in a few scenes. Thankfully, no Edge enhancement or DNR appeared.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack supports the many scenes involving club music, very well. The surround field is very active, with the subwoofer kicking in when necessary. The pounding bass never interrupts the dialogue that stays clean and clear throughout. Ambient and action effects pan the soundfield very effectively. An English 2.0 Dolby Digital track and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks are also available.
English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are available.
Given that this is a “Combo Pack,” the set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy of the film and a code to stream a digital copy via UltraViolet. The special features are pretty thin:
- Backstage on Magic Mike (6:56, HD) HD) An EPK-like trip behind-the-scenes with the cast and crew
- Extended Dance Scenes (8:48, HD) Three extended sequences from Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello and Adam Rodriquez.
- Dance Play Mode (18:39, HD) A sizzle reel of the film’s dance numbers.