Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Pecs, drugs and Soderbergh

“Magic Mike”, Steven Soderbergh’s affable tale of male strippers

Nicholas Barber | July/August 2012

Steven Soderbergh’s new film is a cautionary tale that won’t prompt much caution. Its hero, Channing Tatum (above, right), is a male stripper who invites a 19-year-old drop-out, Alex Pettyfer, to join his Florida dance troupe. Pettyfer is ecstatic, but there’s a high price to be paid for all the sex, drugs and cash suddenly being thrust his way. Stripping is bad for the soul—or so the script would have us believe. The snag is that "Magic Mike" is so affable and funny that it’s likely to have audiences racing to their nearest all-male revue. The choreography is sensational; the flirtation between Tatum and Pettyfer’s sister is endearing; and Matthew McConaughey (above, left), continuing an almost unbroken streak of shirtless roles, steals the show as the troupe’s rootin’ tootin’ manager. By the time the moralising starts, it’s too late: magic has already been worked. It’s ironic, because Soderbergh is hardly known for the warmth of his work. More and more, his films come across as remote experiments in editing technique. But not this time. With "Magic Mike", his efforts to be cold and aloof are a delightful failure. ~ Nicholas Barber

Magic Mike British release July 11th

FILM AT A GLANCE

360 (Aug 10th). Peter Morgan, writer of "The Queen", and Fernando Mereilles, director of “City of God”, team up for a 21st-century "La Ronde". A chain of brief encounters stretching from Vienna to London to Phoenix, it captures the texture of a globalised world, but lacks heart: everyone is moving, and no one feels at home. Anthony Hopkins brings much-needed twinkle to a cast that includes Jude Law and Rachel Weisz.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (July 13th). Ready for Armageddon: the RomCom? Steve Carell and Keira Knightley go on a road trip in the last days before an asteroid strike.

The Dark Knight Rises (July 20th). Yes, it’s the third in a series of superhero blockbusters, but "The Dark Knight" was received so rapturously that "The Dark Knight Rises" is hotly awaited. At any rate, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale have promised that this is it.

Brave (Aug 17th) Pixar follows the lucrative but little-loved "Cars 2" with something completely different. "Brave" is its first fairy tale, with its first female lead and its first all-British voice cast. Still, after the huge success of "The Hunger Games", the adventures of a rebellious girl with a bow and arrow couldn’t be more timely.

The Bourne Legacy (Aug 13th). After "Avengers Assemble" and the latest "Mission: Impossible", Jeremy Renner proceeds with his campaign to muscle in on every single action franchise, here deputising for Matt Damon as a colleague of Jason Bourne’s.

Undefeated (Aug 10th). Winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary for its searching analysis of what it takes to turn a failing high-school American-football team into a winning one.

Shadow Dancer (Aug 24th). James Marsh, who directed "Man On Wire" and "Project Nim", proves just as gifted at drama as he is at documentaries. Grim enough to make "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" feel like a trip to the circus, "Shadow Dancer" stars the formidable Andrea Riseborough as an IRA sympathiser forced to betray her family by Clive Owen’s MI5 agent. 
~ NB

Readers' comments

Sign in or Create your account to join the discussion.