Good Story, Well Told
In many ways the movie “Magic Mike” is the surprise success story of 2012. The production budget of the picture was only about 7 million dollars and it grossed over 150 million worldwide. However the real success of “Magic Mike” is not the one on the box office but the one on the storytelling front. This movie is proof that good stories that are well told will always have an audience, even if the backdrop of the picture is something as the male stripping scene of Tampa. Although I’m sure that the male stripper thing helped get quite a few female butts in the theaters as well.
But I’m not a female and I enjoyed the film quite a bit. Not because of the stripping scenes, and there are quite a few of those, but because of the wonderfully executed coming of age story at the center of it. The story follows two guys, Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a lost 19 year old kid who doesn’t exactly know what to do with himself and Mike (Chaning Tatum), who Adam meets on a construction job and who pretty much opens the doors for Adam to a whole new world that is about to change his life, the world of male stripping. As Mike puts it when he explains the situation to Adam’s older sister Brooke (Cody Horn): its money, its women and its fun – a 19 year old’s dream. But the situation is hardly that simple, and although Adam is 19, Mike isn’t.
This simple set-up is the catalyst for the story and to be quite honest it could have been set on an oil rig or in some other similar environment and it could have worked just as well. But I love the male stripping backdrop as it first of all explores something we've never see in movies. A glitzy backdrop that is very ripe with opportunities for humor, opportunities that the movie rarely passes up.
Apart from this dramatic story and this great sense of humor it’s the actors that elevate the film as well. Everyone is great across the board but if there was one name to pick out it would without a doubt be Matthew McConaughey in the role of the strip-club owner Dallas. With this part he continues his string of wonderful performances that was started with “Bernie” and “The Lincoln Lawyer”, and I hear he’s great in “Killer Joe” as well, which is a movie I hope to see sometime soon.
And as funny as it may seem this struck me as probably the biggest crowd-pleaser that Soderbergh has done since “Out Of Sight”. I don’t think it’s better than “Che” or “Traffic” or even “Contagion”, but I’m sure that the simple and empathetic linear story that it tells is the key reason for this film's success. Yeah the people went to see it for the sexy and hunky stars but they stayed for the story, and then came back for another go. It’s a triumph of storytelling and proof positive that the audience for good stories is still out there, even though Hollywood would prefer it if everyone though otherwise.
Chaning Tatum - Mike
Alex Pettyfer - Adam
Cody Horn - Brooke
Olivia Munn - Joanna