"Straight off the bat, I have to personally admit a new found respect for Channing Tatum"
Straight off the bat, I have to personally admit a new found respect for Channing Tatum. I first saw him in A Guide To Recognising Your Saints, which I really liked although a smaller role opposite actors like Robert Downey Jr and Shia La Beouf, Tatum held is own.
Then Hollywood saw the potential in Tatum as a rom-com leading man and we saw him in films such as Step up, She's The Man, Dear John, The Vow and I sort of lost track of him, then recently he cropped again in the fantastic Haywire in a minor role but nonetheless he gave a good performance, and then after that came 21 Jump Street where he more than proved his abilities as a comic actor.
So to Magic Mike, directed by Steven Soderbergh (Haywire as well) that chronicles the true life experiences of Tatum himself back in the early days when he was a male stripper. In the film, the 19 year old Tatum aka The Kid as he becomes known is played by Storm Breaker heart throb Alex Pettyfer, with Channing playing the role of his mentor, Magic Mike, who transforms him from a jobless loser living with his a sister to one of Tampas hottest new male stripper acts, with all the trimmings “women, money and a good time” as Mike incisively points out.
As The Kid falls down the rabbit hole of male stripping, Mike gradually becomes more and more disillusioned with the whole thing, his dream of setting up a custom furniture business seems impossible, all the jobs he takes are cash in hand so as a result struggles to get the credit rating he needs. As well as a hedonistic life of drink, drugs and meaningless flings, Mike starts to reassess his life. Through a combination of Mike's relationship with The Kid, which leads them into all sorts of trouble, but also a blossoming romance with The Kid's sister, Brooke. These events ultimately act as something of a catalyst for Mike to turn his life around.
As I mentioned at the very start, I have a new found respect for Tatum, part of his appeal is down to his likeability, you get the sense as you watch the film that you truly are watching Channing Tatum as himself, someone who is witty, kind- hearted, a smooth talker and just an all round nice guy. In fact this kind of naturalism runs through the entire film, at times the film has a real feeling of a fly on the wall documentary, in reading about the film Soderbergh left room in the script for improvisation, particularly in the dancing scenes which are some of the most entertaining parts of the movie.
At this stage I should mention that brilliant scene stealing performance from Mattthew Mcconaughey as the owner of the club and ring master of stripping.
You have to hand it to a man who's willing to dance around in the skimpiest of skimpy leather thongs, his farewell performance at the club is surely one of the highlights of the film!
Soderbergh is an interesting director who straddles both mainstream and independent quite seamlessly, going from the Ocean's trilogy to more experimental work like The Girlfriend Experience, so he's quite hard to peg down in terms of style. But with Magic Mike, there are definitely correlations with his more recent work such as Haywire, Contagion and The Informant! etc.
Never one for over the top camera work, Soderbergh is more of an observer, static wide angle cameras capturing the action all with a distinct colour palette, in Magic Mike's case a sun drenched Tampa Florida yellow permeates the images on screen. With a Soderbergh film like Magic Mike, the characters and the story are what's important, and the film has some fantastic characters and a great story made even more fascinating by the fact it's based on Tatum's own life.
Despite being based on Tatum's formative stripping years, the film isn’t particularly about his life it's about Mikes and I Suppose I really wanted to learn more about The Kid's (Tatum's) journey to Miami and what happened there, instead we wrap up the film quite sweetly with Mike and Brooke and it's quite clear there’s a burgeoning romance between them. All in all, it’s a really entertaining movie.