Channing Tatum's turn as "Magic Mike" hints at the dark side of male stripping. Mostly, though, it just shows him from every side.
If you ask Mike, he'd say he was a mover and a shaker.
OK, yeah, there's the whole male stripper side of that equation. "Magic Mike" has been doing it for a while, and there's no shortage of moving and shaking in that part of his life. But what Mike means is that he's something of an entrepreneur. He has his own car-detailing business, he does some part-time roofing jobs and—once he comes up with enough money—he plans to start a custom furniture business.
For now, though, he has to keep working at a Tampa nightspot called Xquisite. It's an all-male dance "revue," and it nets him good money. Yeah, OK again, most of it is in singles that he has to pull out of his g-string, but money's money, he figures. And the fringe benefits? Let's just say there's no shortage of female patrons who are very happy to spend some time in his company once he's off the dance floor.
Mike's stripper mentor is the club owner, Dallas, who worked his way up from the bottom of the business himself. A showman extraordinaire, Dallas has handpicked his crew. There's Ken "The Living Doll," the muscular wild man "Tarzan," the Latin lothario "Tito," and the list goes on. Together, the group sports more six packs than the cooler section of your local 7-Eleven.
And then there's the new guy, Adam, a struggling teen whom Mike ran into on a roofing job—and recruited for his night job. The 19-year-old is a bit rough, but the fact that he whipped his hootin'-'n'-hollerin' audience of women into a frenzy on his first night shows that he's got potential.
Speaking of potential, Adam's pretty, no-nonsense sister, Brooke, seems to offer plenty of that in her relationship with Mike. She's not just another patron in search of a quick-and-nasty thrill. No, she's got grit. And she doesn't have any problem telling Mike exactly what she thinks. In fact, Mike realizes he can actually have a real conversation with this woman.
And that, he slowly begins to realize, is a whole lot better than a buck or two in his g-string.
Mike genuinely wants to better himself and leave his life as a stripper behind, but he has a difficult time disengaging from the financial and fleshly "perks" his job affords him. So credit his growing relationship with Brooke for forcing him to start thinking harder about a reboot.
For her part, Brooke's a fairly levelheaded young woman who loves her brother, Adam, and is very protective of him. Brooke and Mike go out of their way to look after the clueless kid.
Adam's new job as a stripper exposes him to more temptation than he can handle, especially when it comes to the drug use he eventually indulges in. Adam and Mike are also subject to violence in several scenes. In these areas, the film has a slight cautionary element to it—albeit buried behind acres of bare flesh—as it arguably attempts to illustrate the dark side of being a male stripper.
During an announcement to his staff, Dallas affects a Southern preacher twang and says, "The good Lord has blessed the kings of Tampa—can I get an amen?"
Within the movie's opening minutes, Mike slips naked out of bed (we see him fully from behind) and starts talking with his topless friend, Joanna, about the naked girl passed out on the bed (whose bare backside is also aimed at the lingering camera lens). They both talk about how they enjoyed having sex with her the night before, but neither can come up with her name.
That casual "anything goes" attitude sets the tone here. To the strains of "It's Raining Men," Magic Mike crotch-thrusts its way through many, many scenes filled with glistening male bodies and swarms of screaming, groping women with dollars in hand. And it's difficult if not impossible to describe the pornographic nature of these scenes without sounding, well, pornographic. To detail every pawing grab at a leather g-string, every mimicked sex act and every naked male backside we see would take pages. So I'll provide a few representative examples with as discreet a description as possible:
One shocking scene involves a brief close-up of a man using a penis-enlarging device. Many comments are made about his "size," and the camera later provides a silhouetted view.
Male dancers are shown in a series of routines that center around removing various cowboy, policeman and Indian-chief costumes. They frequently employ stroked phallic symbols—from umbrellas to sledgehammers. In fact, club owner Dallas trains Adam in the physicality of these kinds of routines, demonstrating their similarity to sexual movements.
Some routines involve bringing female patrons onstage or joining them at their tables. The mostly naked men gyrate on the women's laps or pick them up to mimic various sex acts.
Outside of the club we see characters before, during and after intercourse. An example: Adam walks in on a partially clothed married couple. The husband talks with him about his wife's attributes and then invites him to judge them firsthand. The camera watches as Adam does so.
Mike dresses up to look like Marilyn Monroe. Brooke finds Adam's sexual paraphernalia and costumes, which lead her to think he's gay. Male and female characters are shown in Speedos, bikinis and cleavage-boosting outfits.
During a private strip gig at a sorority, Mike and Adam get into a brawl with male students. Adam is hit in the head with a bottle, and the two friends begin pummeling the students—holding several of them down and pounding them viciously in the face. The stripping dancers end up running into the street, both wearing little more than a g-string and a policeman's hat.
After Adam's drug deal with a club DJ goes wrong, thugs come looking for money and rip up Mike's apartment. When Mike tries to stop them they knock him to the ground with several hard hits.
Crude or Profane Language
Approximately 150 f-words and more than 30 s-words. We hear a half-dozen total misuses of God's and Jesus' names. ("God" is combined with "d‑‑n" once.) "H‑‑‑" and "d‑‑n" also make the profanity list, along with vulgar references to both male and female genitalia.
Drug and Alcohol Content
The club DJ becomes friends with Adam, and they go in on an Ecstasy deal together. We see Adam getting high on the drug, and Mike nearly has to carry him home. Adam also brings a backpack full of Ecstasy to the sorority gig and gives some to a female student.
Mike gets angry at one point and decides that he and Adam are going to go out and get "wasted." The ensuing montage shows them popping pills and tossing back booze. The next morning Adam is found choking on his own vomit.
Female patrons in the strip club are always boozy and yell drunkenly at the dancers. One girl complains that she's just turned 21 and can't seem to imbibe enough to get drunk. Mike helps her out with a tray full of shots. In fact, part of Mike's job involves going to other clubs to ply young women with shots in an attempt to lure them to Xquisite.
Dancers swill beer and a potent homemade alcoholic concoction backstage to prepare for their performances. One dancer "prepares" so much he passes out. A couple of the guys share a joint, and someone smokes a cigarette.
Other Negative Elements
When Brooke questions the wisdom of her brother's involvement at the strip club, Mike offers this counterargument: "Women, money and a good time." He wonders what else a 19-year-old should be doing with his life.
As much as it's hinted that Mike may indeed be turning over a new leaf by movie's end, it's never really suggested that any of the other characters' lustful and drunken choices are a bad thing. In fact, it's just the opposite. Dallas and the other strippers go on to greater success. And even the brainless and flighty Adam receives a promotion at the club and seems to have learned nothing from his reckless misdeeds.
It's been said that Magic Mike is loosely based on star Channing Tatum's real-life experiences as an erotic dancer before he made his way to Hollywood. But, frankly, with lurid fare like Showgirls, Striptease and Boogie Nights blazing that cinematic trail before this movie, there really wasn't any need to bother. Magic Mike is simply the latest in a long line of movies designed to titillate and shock with winking peeks behind the scenes of their lust-centered flesh games.
There is a superficial love story sandwiched between onstage crotch-cupping, drunken female screeching and nearly naked couplings. But it's the slightest of see-through romances, really, with just enough bare thread to try to keep viewers from noticing how completely pointless, puerile and pornographically minded this flick full of popping pecs actually is. Likewise, the would-be cautionary message of the movie gets almost completely lost amid all its carnal excesses.