RedEye movie critic, music editor
June 29, 2012
After countless ads featuring stripping, stripping and more stripping, you probably drooled all over your seat/armrest/entire theater after seeing the two-hour naked-dude-extravaganza at last night’s midnight screening of “Magic Mike.”
What? That’s not what the movie is? No kidding. If you’ve already seen it, or just read my or anyone else’s review, you know that, despite a marketing campaign featuring virtually nothing but Channing Tatum and his back-up dancers taking it off onstage, “Magic Mike” is actually a thoughtful, level-headed movie--that examines Mike’s (Tatum) growing realization of what he may not be able to accomplish while holding onto a job that allows packs of screaming women to hold onto him and his abs. Yes, it’s very funny, but director Steven Soderbergh and writer Reid Carolin also demonstrate that just because a movie’s about stripping doesn’t mean it has to be campy or a joke. Anyone broadly expecting another “Showgirls” or “Striptease” or “Insert Title of Straight-To-DVD Cinemax Movie about a Small-Town Girl Who Takes It All Off and Has Sex to the Tune of a Sweet, Sweet Saxophone” will almost certainly walk out of “Magic Mike” and say something like, “That was good, but I was expecting something totally different.”
That, of course, isn’t the movie’s fault. Those expectations come from marketing. Yet it’s unfortunate that such a hilarious yet quietly perceptive character study will inspire recommendations with an asterisk. I think word of mouth for “Magic Mike,” whose stripping-related buzz should ensure a solid opening weekend at the box office, will be strong, and hopefully strong enough to keep it on people’s minds in the coming weeks. If it makes enough money, I really don’t think a supporting actor nomination for Matthew McConaughey is out of the question.
It’s hard to know how “Magic Mike” should have been promoted. As my colleague Jessica Galliart noted (in addition to recognizing the film's lack of "wang"), the ads mildly incorporated the relationship between Mike and Brooke (Cody Horn), but that dynamic is actually a little underwritten in the movie, largely due to Brooke’s fixed point of view and Horn failing to provide much dimension to the character that is there. So should the trailers have emphasized Mike’s ambitions? Probably not. I admittedly laughed when an early trailer suggested the movie’s arc would focus on this stripper’s goal of becoming a custom furniture designer, which seemed both totally random and no more believable/ordinary than Anton Yelchin making his own chairs in “Like Crazy.”
Clearly, people have a knee-jerk reaction to the concept of movies about strippers, and, in terms of putting butts in the seats,Warner Bros. wisely played into that and made sure everyone knew that “Magic Mike” is a movie about guys paid to dance and take off their clothes. It remains to be seen, however, if those public butts manipulated by marketing will emerge from one of the best movies of the year so far focused on what they actually saw, or what they thought they would.
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