Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

'Magic Mike:' The Decline and Fall of Soderbergh

My incredible disappointment regarding summer blockbuster "Magic Mike" was intense enough to deviate from reviewing classic sitcoms and great old cartoons to provide a public service warning about the completely unmet potential of this film.

I admit that stating that I went to the film because I have been a HUGE Steven Soderbergh fan since he directed "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," because the New York Times gave "Magic Mike" a better-than-expected review, and because the prospect of sitting in an air-conditioned theater watching what I expected would be well-choreographed dance numbers to upbeat music from my youth was appealing can be compared to a man asserting that he reads Playboy for the articles.

Further, I did not need to go to a movie theater if I wanted to see manscaped attractive twinks thrust their moneymakers; the Internet has plenty of videos of guys who fill out g-strings better than Channing Tatum and the rest of the "Mike" cast.

The "Magic Mike" dance routines were true junk male in both senses of that term because their appeal was limited and merely a scam to most of us. Further, the packages did not fill the envelopes particularly well.

I also want to mention that it is sad that it seems that most men who, like myself, go to this film by themselves feel compelled to sit in the back row as if they were at a '70s era Times Square porn theater.

Living in the second decade of the 21st century, men have no reason for any insecurity about even perceptions regarding their sexuality. I sat center row center eating my contraband turkey sandwich and guzzling my gazillion-ounce Diet Coke, which will also soon be contraband in New York City, while stuffing my grocery bag sized of lukewarm popcorn coated with vegetable oil down my pie hole.

On a related note, ogling quarterbacks Tom Brady or the Peyton brothers every weekend, crying into your beer when your "boyfriend" on your baseball team is traded, and missing work to mourn a super bowl loss is far more gay than seeing a movie about 20 and 30-something men who realize that showing off their wares to a crowd of horny sorority girls and desperate housewives is a good way to keep the fridge stocked with Bud.

Getting down to business, Tatum had the looks, body, and charm to play a male stripper. He simply lacked the talent to star in what was intended to be an honest look at the world of men in that "profession."

I never have, and never will, seen a "Twilight" movie but wonder if one of the boys from that series would have done a better job.

First, I did not buy Tatum's 30 year-old character with six years of stripping experience as the Yoda of the group and the mentor of the 19 year-old "kid" played by Alex Pettyfer. He, and Tatum, simply lacked the intelligence and hard knocks to pull it off.

Mike merely seemed like a decent middle-class kid who realized that utilizing his good looks and rockin' bod were the fastest way to raise the money needed to start his furniture design business. His recognition that he did not want to be a pathetic 40 year-old stripper like the sleazy club owner played by the perpetually bare-chested and insufferable Matthew McConaughy was one of the rare real moments in the film.

Additionally, we learn very little about any of the characters. Mike is very one-dimensional, and we never learn why the kid is living with his understanding older sister or really why she feels the need to be strict with him.

Every other character, including the usually much more appealing Matt Bomer of "White Collar,"  is little more than scenery for our modern-day Butch and Sundance who literally jump into the abyss together.

The shame is that Soderbergh's past work shows that he easily could have made this film much better. The unofficial tagline could have been "Come for the six packs and hot naked butts, stay for the compelling drama."

A bromance version of "A Star is Bared" or a more homoerotic take of "All About Steve" would have been soooo much better. These approaches would have had added substance to the elements of the Kid giving into the easy money, casual sex, and drugs of the world of male stripping while he pushed the older Mike out the spotlight.

Despite the incredible risk to his career, it also would have been great to see the dreamy Justin Bieber show up at the end to remind the Kid that someone younger and cuter is always waiting in the wings. "Baby, baby, baby" indeed.

I imagine that many readers will have their own thoughts regarding my take on "Magic Mike" and the latent homoerotic thoughts of sports fans. Please feel free to email me.

My blanket responses to unduly hostile messages are "I'm rubber and you're glue; what you say bounces off me and sticks to you." and "I know you are, but what am I?"