This post originally appeared on an older version of LivLuna
Oh, LivLunatics, I’m pretty sure most of you know that I have been waiting for June 29th ever since I saw the first promotional stills for what I thought was going to be the most ridiculous, campy, over the top movie ever made back in December. In the months leading up to it, Magic Mike (directed by Steven Soderbergh) has become a cultural phenomenon. It got people talking about topics like objectification, how great it is that women are expressing that they enjoy beefcake, why female stripping is erotic, yet male stripping is performance art, so on and so forth.
The marketing for this film has been insane. My take is that upon seeing internet response to Channing Tatum (also producer,) Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, and Alex Pettyfer ready to rock your world, Warner Brothers knew they had something on their hands, directing their marketing efforts to getting women in the theatre, focusing on the beefcake aspect rather than the less-than-sunny overall plot of the film that would (by Hollywood standards) appeal more to men. Boy, was it effective. These men were everywhere–TV, magazine covers, websites, etc. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the boy band craze of the late nineties-early 2000’s. Remember when N*Sync, The Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, ect. were everywhere, causing girls to go bananas? The intense fandom and loyalty wars? The girls who loved them are now women in their twenties and early thirties. There’s a bit of nostalgia in there–who doesn’t want to feel young again?
Seriously, look at this insert from Entertainment Weekly from the week of May 25th. I thought it was an outtake from a photoshoot 98 Degrees did in 1999 at first glance. And yet, I totally bought it, especially blushing and giggling over the photos that featured Joe Manganiello. Other women were especially blushing and giggling over Channing Tatum. Or Matt Bomer. Or Matthew McConaughey. Regardless, these and other magazines pretty much had every woman in the country a little more excited to see Magic Mike. The past couple weeks have been the most intense–seriously, you couldn’t turn on your television for the past few days without seeing Channing Tatum or especially Joe Manganiello promoting the film–making me SUPER excited to see it. Would Big Dick Richie live up to his name? Would Magic Mike really be magical? How much stripping would there be?
So, on June 29th, my awesome friend Regina, who I have spent months with conversing on Facebook and in person about uh, certain aspects about the movie (not the plot, I can tell you that much…) and I, despite both of us having worked all night, met at the Lowes Village VII theatre at 10:30 AM, just like we had promised each other. We were dedicated; we were pumped. By the end of the movie, however, we had gone from whispering and giggling excitedly to asking each other “what the hell did we just watch?” It was not two hours of lighthearted beefcake, that’s for sure–it was more like, ten minutes of beefcake followed by an hour and ten minutes of the darkest part of an eighties “cute young adult with a big dream” movie. Quick premise: Mike (Channing Tatum) is a
steel town girl on a Saturday night lookin’ for the fight of her life is a construction worker by day, stripper by night who actually wants to be a furniture designer. Can you see where this is going? I don’t have to give anything away because you figured out what’s going to happen? Okay then. That being said, there are two major problems with this film:
(1) The Structure
The film started off as a fun, surprisingly guy-friendly romp: Magic Mike’s protege, “The Kid” (Alex Pettyfer) asks if they can be best friends forever after jumping into a body of water together. I’m not kidding. You had the promised beefcake via ridiculous dance numbers (Matt Bomer’s character breaks out of a pretend Ken doll box, does the robot and then mock humps a customer. That is all.) a penis pump scene that will inspire Austin Powers jokes after you’ve made up your mind as to whether or not the penis inside is actually that of “Big Dick Richie’s” portrayer, Joe Manganiello (I’m undecided, I want to say fake, but I’ve also heard he’s a method actor, so…) and Matthew McConaughey at his most ridiculous as sleazy club promoter “Dallas.” Then, out of nowhere, the film gets very melodramatic and very weird. That’s not to say the film is bad, but it needed to pick one direction and stick with it–it could have been two hours of “man ass galore,” as the promos promised, or it could have gone the route of Boogie Nights (1997,) and stayed as a drama all the way through. By trying to blend both, it just didn’t work, especially with the the way the film is being marketed. Plus, Soderbergh, improv-ed scenes can be fun, but just make sure that the audience can’t tell–not all of the actors could pull it off, and it really showed.
(2) The Women
Why, why, why, why do TV and movie casting directors always insist on doing the Betty/Veronica, Madonna/Whore thing when it comes to women in movies with large male casts? ESPECIALLY when the project is being heavily marketed to women? It really bothers me. Magic Mike is no exception. The two main women are Joanna (Olivia Munn,) a brunette, free-spirited, sexually adventurous psychology PhD. candidate who has a friends with benefits thing with Mike, who actually really likes her. Then you have Brooke (Cody Horn,) who is tall, tan, blonde, tattooed and who is tough because she adds “fucking” after every other word that comes out of her mouth (aka “more guy friendly”) hmmm. Can you tell who is going to break Mike’s heart and who he’s going to end up with? It’s so played out, and frankly, offensive. Again, Warner Brothers, I’m sure you didn’t expect that this film was going to get the response from women that it did, but still–make sure that you avoid these overused tropes in future films. You’ll get even more women in the theatre, and there will be less eye rolling from them. I promise.
So what’s my final verdict? I say, this is one of those things you have to see for yourself–just don’t go in with any grand expectations. “Kathleen. It’s about male strippers. How big can one’s expectations really be?” you’re probably thinking. Hey, I was expecting a two-hour all male revue featuring the hottest actors on TV and in movies right now; instead, I got a hybrid Flashdance meets Boogie Nights. I’ve read reviews where the reviewer was expecting to absolutely hate the film, and they wound up loving it, so it’s really up to you, LivLunatics!
Have any of you seen Magic Mike? Was there plenty of beefcake for your liking, or did you want more? Are you disappointed by the lack of LivLuna favorite Big Dick–er, Joe Manganiello? Were you as puzzled as Regina and I were?