Now Playing: It’s Raining Men… and Cliches

At first glance, I had absolutely no interest in ‘Magic Mike’. As a straight man, why would I want to watch Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer strip for 110 minutes? Not until fellow High-Def Digester Aaron pointed out that this was a Steven Soderbergh film did I become interested. Because it’s a Soderbergh movie, it’s better than expected – but the film’s second half ultimately fails in comparison to the strong first half.

Honestly, the best moments of ‘Magic Mike’ are the stripper scenes. Ladies, get ready to see more of this cast than you have (perhaps) ever imagined. Guys, get ready to die laughing. No matter your sexual preference, you’ll enjoy these scenes. Personally, I found them hilarious. The ladies will be giddy for one reason, and the dudes will laugh for another.

The first half of the movie is an interesting look into the world of male stripping. It looks enticing and fun. The second half leaves the dancing behind and gets into second-tier characters and their problems. The plot then turns to focus on that fluff, traveling down extremely familiar roads. Drugs, drug dealers, betrayal, violence, overdosing and every sort of contrived drama that you’d expect in a stripper movie ensue.

As much as I’ve starting to like Channing Tatum in the recent past, just like the movie itself, he starts off good, then pretty much turns into blah. Some scenes feel like they lack direction entirely, almost like actors are reading their parts for the first time at a table read. Other times they’re fantastic. There’s really no rhyme or reason for the inconsistencies.

Did I miss the memo announcing that Matthew McConaughney was revisiting his character from ‘Dazed and Confused‘? “All right, all right, all right” is once again his catch phrase. Again, McConaughey is great in the first half of ‘Magic Mike’, but turns into an ugly caricature later.

Many are calling ‘Magic Mike’ a male version of ‘Showgirls‘, but it deserves more attention than that. Even if you don’t like a Steven Soderbergh film, you still have to respect it and give it some credit for being a Soderbergh film – something better made than most movies out there. ‘Magic Mike’ won’t earn the director any great accolades, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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