Magic Mike

For those of you with a significant other, watch it with them. For you men, threaten to come to bed dressed as Magic Mike if she cops an attitude.

Rating: Many women will likely find it tolerable, and men should risk seeing it only if their significant other says something like, “Oh, Mr. Tatum” when you attempt to kiss her.

Magic MikeOver a bit of the break provided by the holiday season, I decided to challenge my wife, Ms. Foster, to watch a few movies that I chose not to see the first time around. There is always a risk in that process, but this is “the season to risk being jolly,” isn’t it?

I’ve already reviewed for you one of the films in this process, the monumentally depressing Arbitrage, so I swallowed my dwindling pride and chose to include Magic Mike. Unfortunately, with the exception of a tremendous performance by Matthew McConaughey, there were multiple reasons why I should have simply let it die a slow, cinematic death.

Obviously, Channing Tatum is the present darling in Hollywood. For reasons that admittedly escape me, many women react to him in the same way men did Marilyn Monroe in the 1950’s.

To be quite honest, I don’t think I have been entirely fair to Mr. Tatum. While he has made some wretched choices with obvious consequences in such previous films as G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra. (2009); The Dilemma (2011) and this year’s supremely regrettable 21 Jump Street, you have to give him credit for his largely overlooked performances in Stop-Loss (2008); a damn good performance as Pretty Boy Floyd in Johnny Depp’s Public Enemies (2009) and last year’s female action film by Director Steven Soderbergh in Haywire.

Here, he plays Magic Mike, a young man working several jobs to start a furniture company. He works days in home construction, and unfortunately spends several nights as a Chippendale dancer/stripper at a local establishment in Tampa. Since this was Mr. Tatum’s acknowledged prior job at one point in his life, the man does have some talent removing his clothes, and that certainly was the case here where a large number of women on screen roared in passionate delight.

On the other hand, the film grew increasingly tiresome as it focused on Tatum’s protégé, played by Alex Pettyfer. For what it is worth, I failed to buy into the premise that a young man with no identifiable goals in life would spiral out of control with an evening job that caused him to dance nearly nude in an environment filled with sex, drugs and the remnants of rock and roll.

As noted above, the strength of the film comes from a stellar, unashamed performance by Mr. McConaughey as the leader of the gang of strippers. As foolish as he was profoundly funny, he clearly knew what it would take to fill a nightclub with crazed women. He joins in the participation, and he continues to morph into an accomplished actor who must make Kate Hudson jealous.

I also have to recognize the performance of Cody Horn, who played Brooke, the sister of Mr. Pettyfer. Looking like a cross between Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams, she is primarily dedicated to helping her immature brother survive his excesses while resisting her own attraction to Mr. Tatum. She inherently likes him, but detests the work he chooses to perform in the evenings, and their evolving relationship is the strength of the film.

Let me simply say that Ms. Foster was not overwhelmed by Magic Mike, and I could find little solace with my assertion that I had earlier intentionally dodged it in the movie theater. Quite honestly, she once again reminded me of that moment when she accompanied me to see Nicholas Cage and Elizabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas in 1995. As she moaned and groaned halfway through the film, I turned to her and politely said, “What in the God’s name is wrong with you?” To which she responded by fully embracing her Sicilian background, “Why in the hell don’t they just drink themselves to death so we can leave?”

Even if I got paid to write these reviews, I am certain that Ms. Foster still would not be impressed.