Reportedly inspired by star Channing Tatum’s past exploits, Magic Mike follows floundering slacker Adam (Alex Pettyfer) as he’s drawn into the world of stripping by the charismatic title character (Tatum) – with Adam’s money problems erased after club owner (and flamboyant showman) Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) agrees to give the newcomer a spot in his all-male revue. It’s an intriguing premise that’s initially employed to surprisingly (and compulsively) watchable effect, as director Steven Soderbergh, working from Reid Carolin’s screenplay, does a nice job of luring the viewer into this admittedly alien world by showcasing it through the eyes of Pettyfer’s fish-out-of-water figure – with the pervasive enthusiasm of the supporting characters’ stripping routines going a long way towards cultivating a vibe of irresistible, high-energy camp. There’s little doubt, however, that the uneventfulness of Carolin’s subdued screenplay becomes more and more problematic as time progresses, with the meandering atmosphere eventually (and perhaps inevitably) exacerbated by a reliance on eye-rollingly hackneyed elements and plot developments. (It’s ultimately clear that the most trenchant example of this is the aggressively stale stretch detailing Adam’s drug-fueled downfall, as it is, in addition to being entirely needless, the sort of thing that’s been done many, many times before to far, far better effect.) The degree to which Magic Mike subsequently fizzles out is nothing short of astonishing, with the movie’s abject failure especially disappointing given the effectiveness of the various performances (eg McConaughey’s compelling work is alone almost enough to justify a viewing).
*** out of ****