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IN SHORT: What Hollywood learned from Demi Moore in Striptease. [Rated R for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug uses. 100 minutes]
For those who haven't gove searching through our archives, Striptease was a $40 million dollar bomb, featuring a brief glimpse of Demi Moore naked, that grossed a meager $32 millions in its US run. The overseas box office revenue, on the other hand, was well over $80 millions in its first two weeks. Add aftermarket revenues, for perverts eager to hit the "pause" button, and it might have made real money. That was then.
Now, we've got Magic Mike. In theory, this film might have been a stunning portrait of the three phases of a male stripper's career if it had been written by someone with more experience than first-timer Reid Carolin, actor Channing Tatum's production partner. Carolin's previous work was as a producer of documentary and independent features. The story "pitch" must have been inspiring 'cuz the story in the screenplay would never have made it out of any well-taught "How to Write A Screenplay" course. In those courses, and we took 'em, twenty students work on scripts, submit 'em to the entire class, endure as the class rips 'em to shreds, and *always* comes back with a better second draft. Or Third. The script for Magic Mike is beyond even the abilities of a skilled director like Steven Soderbergh to save. Even worse, the Florida drawl is mumbled for most of the film, and the sound work in general is so terribly recorded that most of the film is unintelligible to Northern ears.
At least one member of our audience was heard muttering: "That's two hours of my life I want back!" on the way out. His mistake. Magic Mike is only 110 minutes. Walking out before the credits will save you five minutes.
So back to those "three phases" . . . : Phase One is "The Kid," 19-year old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) who lives with an overly protective sister named Brooke (Cody Horn). Phase Two is personified by Adam's mentor, "Magic Mike" (Channing Tatum), the headline stripper at the Club Xquisite Male Striptease Revue of Tampa, Florida. Phase Three is the owner of the club, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), once a successful stripper. Dallas hung up his thong long and now, as management, aims to take his business to new stomping grounds in Miami.
But "Magic" Mike, an owner of 10% of the club's action is now told he'll only get a 7.5% cut. Take it or leave it. Gee, it sounds like a perfect setup for a murder mystery, But it's not. Magic Mike is just a plain ol' lousy movie about a newbie in the biz. The shame is that this particular aspect of the film is the most developed, and better written, sequences of the overall picture. Y'see The Kid doesn't tell his sister about the gig at Xquisite. She'll discover the secret. She'll see the scene at the club. There is just a tease of a potential developing relationship between her and Mike. If you must know what happens, well, you're now explicitly warned not to waste first run bucks. Maybe writer Carolin was rushed. Not our concern.
Well aftet the point where we ceased to care, the club DJ, Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) gets The Kid in on some kind of Ecstasy drug running scheme which lures The Kid to the proverbial dark side of the biz and breaks Magic Mike's bank; funds set aside to finance grand plans for his post-stripper life. Here comes big potential for conflict Number Two -- which is part of the general template for "how to write . . ." so at least the first timer read the text book. We're not going to tell you how this final conflict is resolved. You've already been warned a couple of times that Magic Mike is anything but. Magic.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Magic Mike, he would have paid . . .
Matthew McConaughey flashing butt cheeks got a rise out of our audience ( . . . we so apologize for that choice of language . . .) Scattered applause here isn't quite the equivalent of Ving Rhames' outstanding work in Striptease, but it is enough to keep the film out of the hallowed "no reason whatsoever to spend money on this crap" zero dollar rating level.
But not by much. Avoid this turkey
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