Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
Magic Mike

Title: Magic Mike

Is It True Olivia Munn Is Topless in This? It is indeed true, and they are Munn-ificent.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant to the Film: Three penis pumps out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Veteran male stripper shows newbie the ropes. And his junk.

Tagline: "Work all day. Work it all night."

Better Tagline: "Apparently Matthew McConaughey has sworn off shirts for good."

How Does It Earn Its "R" Rating? Copious bared breasts and ass cheeks, simulated intercourse, two penises (one silhouetted), innumerable F-bombs and a pet pig eating vomit (someone else's, not his own).

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Mike (Channing Tatum) is a Tampa roofing contractor/car detailer by day, stripper by night with ambitions of selling his own custom furniture. A chance encounter with young co-worker Adam (Alex Pettyfer) ends up with the newly dubbed Kid working alongside Mike at Xquisite, an all-male strip showcase run by Dallas (McConaughey), a veteran with an eye on moving his operation to Miami. Soon Mike must balance his hedonistic lifestyle with his promise to Adam's sister, Brooke, (Cody Horn) to keep an eye on Adam, who has a knack for trouble.

"Critical" Analysis: Magic Mike is built on the (accurate) premise that there's a significant difference between male and female stripping. The former is almost always accompanied by a keen awareness of its own goofiness. No male strip club, like La Bare or what have you, is open for lunch buffets or on a Monday night, because that particular industry is built on the "girls' night out," making bucks from groups of women out for a slightly raunchy yet good-natured experience.

So while Mike, Adam, Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and...Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello) get into their fair share of shenanigans, there's never the overarching penumbra of sorrow that seems to accompany most standard strip clubs. The inevitable drug angle costs money, not lives, and while there's some betrayal to be had, make no mistake, the men will be just fine. It's what lends Magic Mike its comic slant, which is an approach rarely seen in a movie about the female end of the biz.

Unless it's unintentional, à la Showgirls.

I sort of forgot this was a Steven Soderbergh movie until the end credits. That's not really a bad thing, because Magic Mike is Soderbergh's best movie since The Informant (sorry, Gina). Give the guy his due -- whether it's a movie about a global pandemic, a D.C. call girl (played by an ex-porn star) or Che Guevera, dude likes to take chances. Here, unlike his more recent efforts where he largely plays it straight, Soderbergh does a better job balancing the humor inherent in the biz with the situational ethics involved in taking your clothes off for money.

The cast is surprisingly up to the task as well. I'm still not sold on Tatum (replacing Matt Damon as Soderbergh's go-to guy, perhaps?), but his dance/exotic dancer past serves him well here, and he seems more at home in this role than in just about any other recent effort. Munn, as Mike's fuck buddy/psychology doctoral student(!), does a better job than I could have imagined, and Soderbergh throws a great curveball at the audience by showing her topless before you even realize who it is. Only Horn (daughter of Warner Bros. President and COO Alan Horn) disappoints. Someone should tell her a perpetual sneer isn't "acting," it just makes you look like you have a permanent case of bitchface.

And the fact Warners is distributing Magic Mike explains why her character is the only one in the movie that doesn't show (much) skin.

The real revelation here? McConaughey. It would be easy to say Dallas is how Wooderson from Dazed and Confused would've ended up, but that character lacked Dallas's drive and darker edge. Just as Larry Hagman is born to play J.R. Ewing, so is the role of an aging Lothario with just enough gas in the tank to shake it onstage one more time tailor-made for the former Lincoln Lawyer. I'm calling it now: Matthew McConaughey for Best Supporting Actor.

Despite the ample jokes and the trailer emphasizing same, there's not much in the way of happy endings here (no pun intended), and at least in that area, Soderbergh remains pretty consistent.

See It/Rent It/Skip It: I can't really see the benefit of watching this in the theater, unless you want to be partially deafened by the squealing over Tatum's bare buns.

Magic Mike is in theaters today. See it with someone you might feel like dry humping later.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar