Thursday, August 23, 2012

Magic Mike Night: Girls' Night.

I totally thought Channing Tatum was in One Tree Hill. Honestly, I did. Apparently I was mistaken; that's Chad Michael Murray. Apparently they are completely different people. The more you know, right? And, as we all know, knowing is half the battle. What I definitely know to be true however - while we're on the topic of Channing Tatum - is that during high school, one of my good friends was OBSESSED with him. The way Evee felt about ol' Channing was much the same as the way I felt about Star Wars, namely the character of Wedge Antilles (but please, let's not go there). A passionate thing, the affections of a teenage girl.

When I heard about Magic Mike, and more specifically that it's directed by Mr Steven Soderburgh, I immediately thought to invite my old pal. She'd see some shirtless gyrating Tatum, I'd see me a good film while not feeling a complete loser sitting in the cinema by myself surrounded by many ladies all hot under the collar. Not that I have anything against being in the cinema by myself (it's one of my Favourite Activities), but I'd already heard rumours of the intensely filled theatres full of ladies wanting some intensely naked and muscly men. So I asked her. She immediately responded by making a Facebook event, entitled "MAGIC MIKE NIGHT".


I inwardly laughed when I clicked the "accept" button. I suppose if there was ever a perfect instance to be involved in a cliched/quintessential girls night (not usually one of my preferred activities, if we're being perfectly honest), it was this. Cocktails, then seeing a movie abut male strippers, starring Channing Tatum. 

As I drove over to Evee's house with the necessary ingredients for a vessel of sangria balancing on the passenger seat, I wondered what would the film be like. Certainly I knew the girls would be expecting non-stop stripping, with the few non-stripping scenes beholding nary a shirt in sight. I, on the other hand, was hoping and expecting Steven Soderbergh to dish out a smart, entertaining sojourn into a world I knew nothing about. The closest I've been to a strippers' is a sex show in Amsterdam, and I'm pretty sure that's something entirely different. I'm certain strippers don't have sex on stage, and that there's more in the way of teasing going on than actual penetration of any orifice. I'd apologise for that imagery, but frankly I was the one with balls very near my face while the two people were fucking onstage so I can assure you that I'm the one with the worse image in my head.

We arrived the box office, five ladies in our twenties looking very excitable.
"Let me guess" said the girl behind the desk, grinning. "Magic Mike?"
"YES!!" responded one of my companions, in her best "LADIES OUT ON THE TOWN!" voice.
My palm went to my face, but I couldn't help but laugh as well. If there was a high number of females milling about outside the cinema, then inside it was truly alarming. The cinema was FULL. FULL OF WOMEN. There was exactly one dude, who looked like he wanted to run a mile in any direction away from the movies. This dude was swimming in pussy, and not in a good way. He was drowning in high-pitched voices declaring exclamations of how fucking hot Channing Tatum was going to be at all times but especially when he's de-robed. This poor unfortunate guy was obviously there with his significant other, and my guess is that the promise of post-movie sex was the lure that had brought him to this apparent hell-hole. Poor guy. You can bet your easily-removable britches that every girl that saw him sitting there glowering was thinking the same thing. Wh-pssh, wh-pssh! Poor unfortunate soul. 

It's interesting to note that as we walked out of the theatre, I turned to Evee and asked what she'd thought of the film.
"I was unimpressed. I don't know if I liked it...I wanted more stripping!" Was her response.
"Are you serious??" I replied, shocked. "They stripped like, EVERY FIVE MINUTES."
"I know. But I wanted MORE CHANNING."

Don't let that deter you however. After all, the very dear friend that uttered that also - earlier in the night - asked me (and I quote):
"So what other movies has this Stan Sourdough made?"


I guess what that says is the following: If you were expecting a film that essentially adds up to one, really long dance sequence (a la all those terrible dance movies/TV shows proliferating our screens), you'll be disappointed. You might be disappointed, but you shouldn't really be disappointed at all, given the amount of stripping that does actually occur during Magic Mike's running time. Hot tip: there's lots of stripping.

Basically, Magic Mike is about a stripper named Mike. He's been stripping for a while, and is saving up all those scrunched up one dollar bills in order to pursue his real dream: owning a custom furniture business. He also occasionally works in construction, which is where he meets Adam. Adam has no money but he has a nice bod, so when Adam happens to end up at the strip club where Mike works, he's thrust (haha...thrust) onstage in the place of a stripper who is unable perform. This happens and that happens and voila! Adam is dubbed The Kid, and Mike takes him under his very beefy wing.

The trajectory of the film is an easy one to foresee: young bright eyed and bushy tailed youngster enters a crazy world of sex and drugs, becomes corrupted. Rise and fall! Betrayal! Love interest! You know there's going to be sexual tension between Adam's sister Brooke and Mike. You know Adam's going to get tainted by all the money and sex, and you know Mike's headed for a fall. That being said though, Soderbergh (Sourdough) executes everything in a really compelling, mature, interesting way. It's a vivid and increasingly dark look into an at times fairly seedy universe. For every victorious night onstage, there's eventually going to be a house party visit that descends into a drug-fuelled brawl. As we've learned from countless backstage musicals, what goes up must inevitably come down. The owner of the club where much of the film is set, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) is not only a charismatic frontman and master of ceremonies, but also a shrewd businessman who knows how to get the most out of his troupe and the dollars they deliver. That being said, Magic Mike is also an incredibly enjoyable romp, with many a moment of comedy to be had.

The performances are all good, nothing's ham-fisted, the motivations and flaws of characters aren't rammed down your throats. I mention this because if you were expecting something along the lines of Step Up or Generic Dance Battle Romantic Journey, you'd most likely also be expecting something very easy to digest. Mercifully, Magic Mike isn't Dance Dance Step Up Revolution. Nuance! Subtlety! Showing not telling! These things you will find.

Channing Tatum has really, really made me rethink the way in which I consider him. So long, I'd thought him as merely a somewhat potato-like guy who either danced a lot or looked sad in Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Or was that Chad Michael Murray? Fuck, I can't remember. In any case, I was laughing near-uncontrollably at points during 21 Jump Street, and I found him to be an immensely likeable presence onscreen. As in, distinctly more interesting and well-imagined than a potato.

Credit goes to Miguel for this one.

Magic Mike is no different. Ol' Tatum's able to be the emotional heart of the film, makes for a solid (YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN, said all the ladies) leading man, and proves himself to be a guy you can't help but root for. In addition to that, he can really, really bust a move. By that I mean to say I'm unsure how he manages to be so agile and jump so high with a body that big. I for one, am convinced that he's some sort of really svelte wizard type.

There's no denying he's got a body for which the laydeez are wont to go weak at the knees for. Word on the street (next to me in the cinema) is that Tatum actually began his career as a stripper. The stripping sequences during the film are all super entertaining, well choreographed, and are really conducive to the sort of shrieking giggles that were happening onscreen. Like I said, I've never been to a male strip joint, but I can only imagine they're filled with hens' nights, birthday posses and intoxicated women. At any rate, the stripping sequences within Magic Mike are probably damn deserving of the hooting and wolf-whistles that were erupting around the cinema. Construction workers, firemen, a fourth of July theme; I'd wager there's something for every lady in the mood for some nudity.

Hell, I'm usually one for the scrawny nerdy dudes but at times even I'm sure even I burst into giggling fits of "Shiieeeeeeeeet". Especially during this one sequence where Matthew McConaughey takes to the stage, I distinctly remember turning to the pal beside me and flicking my fingers in approval "That McConaughey still got it!"

So sue me.
So. What did I think? 
I enjoyed Magic Mike. It was entertaining, interesting, vivid and mature. Channing Tatum is definitely earning points in my book. Let's hope he doesn't do any more Nicholas Sparks adaptations and sticks to being funny and dancing well in between Acting. 

Also, I did enjoy GIRLS' NIGHT. I won't soon be heading to a LADIES AT THE CINEMA type film again any time soon, but it was a highly enjoyable experience. I do adore the girls I went with, so I suppose it wouldn't really matter what movie I saw with them, I'd probably have a rad-ass time. I tell you what though, judging by car-ride post-movie banter amongst the boyfriended girls, I know at least three guys got very lucky that night. HEY-O!

I give Magic Mike 3.5 out of 5 martini glasses full of muscle and dollar bills. 

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