“YOU Haven’t Seen BLANK?!” is a monthly column that celebrates milestone movie anniversaries. This month, Marko Djurdjic goes back to 2012 and watches Steven Soderbergh’s sweat-inducing, butt-shaking opus, MAGIC MIKE, for the very first time.
Some movies are made to make you horny. It might not be their theme, or their message, it might not be what defines them or even their ultimate goal, but some films, simply by virtue of their content and presentation, make you horny.
Each film has its own unique reason for wanting to make you horny. Some—Jules et Jim, Persona, Moonlight, Gilda—do it briefly, quickly, fleeting moments with different payoffs that bloom and disappear, leaving you wanting, searching, pining.
Some are reliant on horniness, infused with it, oozing with it, even after they’ve achieved their loftier ambitions (Boogie Nights, Hustlers, In the Mood for Love, The Piano, Y Tu Mamá También). These are the best kind.
For others, this horniness is produced and punctuated by swells and drops, mystery and danger, excitement and acceptance, etc. etc. ad infinitum: Age of Innocence, The Graduate, Intimacy, Weekend, Love & Basketball, The Watermelon Woman, Basic Instinct, In the Realm of the Senses, the list goes on and on OH: Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. There, I’m done.
But for some films, their theme, their message, their ultimate goal is to make you horny. That’s what they do. That’s what they are made to do. That’s what you want them to do.
And Magic Mike is one such film.
“WILL YOU WELCOME TO THE STAGE, THE ONE, THE ONLY…”
Whether you’ve ever been to a strip club or not, male or not, Magic Mike (2012) brings you into one to make a very clear point. It wants you to think and feel in a very specific way, and it is does so through its very loud, very brash, very sweat-inducing approach: Butts, Bulges, Biceps, fin.
Ok, I’m being a bit reductive, but if I read a review of this film and it made innumerable sex-puns and used the word “schlong” to describe the film’s length, I wouldn’t think twice about it. I wouldn’t blink. I wouldn’t even be surprised. Magic Mike is a bit too schlong. There, I said it, thank me later.
Magic Mike tells the story of a group of male strippers working at Xquisite Strip Club, an all-male revue of the nekkid variety in Tampa because of course Magic Mike is set in Florida. Most of the film is yellow-tinged. It’s nauseating and perfect.
The club is run by Bang Bang Bart. Wait, no, sorry, it’s run by Dallas (no relation), who is played to chiselled, palpitating perfection by one Matthew McConaughey. He wears a cowboy hat whenever he’s in the club, and sometimes out (I think, I can’t be too sure, I just picture him with the Stetson, and it works).
The cast is rounded out by Cody Horn as Brooke, the film’s moral centre and Mike’s budding love interest; Olivia Munn as Joanna, a soon to be psychologist and Mike’s hookup-and-threesome buddy; and of course, the other four dancers, who say a combined total of 12 words and look like statues I’ve seen in the antiquities wing of every museum ever (they being Matt Bomer as Ken, who literally comes out of a life-sized Ken Doll box; Adam Rodriguez as Tito; Kevin Nash as Tarzan; and Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Richie. He’s my favourite. It’s not just a name, it’s a state of mind).
Then there’s up-and-coming entrepreneur Michael “Magic Mike” Lane, our titular hero, played by Channing Tatum. Mike’s motivation for stripping is to accumulate enough cash-collateral so that he can start a custom furniture-making business. That’s noble. That’s real. There’s a somewhat poignant scene where he is turned away for a loan by a bank. He tells them off. Why someone who uses washed up junk to build artisanal tables needs a loan from a bank is beyond me, but I’m no artist and some socio-political message has to exist in a Steven Soderbergh film, so why not.
(This is his I-need-a-loan persona. He brings in a pile of rubber-banded ones. It’s adorable.)
Oh yeah, this film is directed by best-director-in-the-year-2000-for-Traffic Steven Soderbergh. Wild. But Sex, Lies and Videotape is also supposed to make you horny (no relation), so he’s a pro.
Back to Channing Tatum. I love Channing Tatum, in this movie and others. He reminds me of a best friend I’d be too intimidated to have. But more on him…right now.
Channing Tatum is hot. He’s not handsome or rugged or burly or beautiful or anything like that. He’s hot. Grate-this-block-of-cheddar-on-his-stomach hot. Be-careful-the-cheese-is-instantly-melting-on-the-aforementioned-stomach hot. That’s how hot, which is very.
But Channing Tatum is also very talented. He’s funny and dedicated to his craft and he embodies every character he’s tasked with embodying (say emBODY again…) with a lost-puppy innocence. Woah, did that puppy just eye-fuck the shit out of me? I think he did. And that’s Channing Tatum.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Finally, there’s Adam “The Kid” (Alex Pettyfer), Brooke’s lackadaisical brother and a lost puppy himself, whom Mike takes under his very-robust wing and helps get a job stripping at Xquisite. But then The Kid starts messing with the wrong people and the wrong drugs and Mike inevitably has to step in to be the hero.
And unfortunately, that’s where the film loses some of its steam. Too many thrusts. Too many pumps. Too many gyrations. It exhausts itself, the novelty of the premise—and with it, the drama—wearing thin by the time the predictable “fall from grace” portion rears its all too familiar head. It becomes an unnecessary hybrid of crime film and redemption drama. It tries to have a message. No one is here for that. What’s up with that, Magic Mike-writer Reid Carolin? Once the party becomes inevitably too overwhelming, too seductive, too easy for everyone involved, so too does the task of finishing strong. (Sex pun. There it is. Doesn’t really work but there it is.)
The film’s third act, with all its “I’m gonna change” moments, is contrived and frankly quite boring, and it sours the atmosphere and pace the first two-thirds of the film worked so hard to establish. The dancing parts. The fun parts. The horny parts. The parts that we’ve all clearly come here to see.
Magic Mike probably (okay, definitely) won’t steer me or anyone away from dancing or drugs or partying or going to an all-male stripping revue, because no one will ever accept—or, let’s be honest, care for—its cautionary, don’t-fly-so-close-to-the-sun motif.
And so, with its attempt at subtext comfortably out of the way, my conclusion is that it succeeds in making people (re: me) horny because that’s the film’s job. That’s its theme, its message, its goal. Because that’s all we, you or I, the viewers, want it to be. I can guarantee that no one went to see, or goes into Magic Mike expecting or even wanting to see, the drama. They’re not here for commentary, or a message. They want to see dudes, bros, beefcakes shake their tail feathers in G-strings while remixes play really, really loudly. And in this way, Magic Mike more than delivers. In this way, it’s a 10 out of 5.
THE MAGIC OF MIKE
The horniness of and for Magic Mike makes the film. It’s unavoidable because you don’t want to avoid it. It’s there because you want it that way. You’ve come here for it. That’s the payoff, the expectation. You want to see bumping, and grinding, and shirtless windmills, and really ripped dudes taking off their clothes. There’s a story? A plot? Please. No one is here for that. In fact, I take back what I wrote earlier. You want a message or social commentary with your male stripping, go watch The Full Monty (great film, btw. It’s celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, but I’ve seen it like 7 times, so it won’t be on the 1997 list).
We come to Magic Mike for the butts. We know what the butts entail. And I know you want to see them because I wanted to see them. I was expecting to see them. I was excited to see them. And I saw them.
Because what’s the point of this movie other than to make you horny?
It’s here to make you horny. It was made to make you horny. It knows you want it to make you horny! And because it embraces its inherent horniness, and lets you embrace yours, it succeeds.
And that’s just fine by me.
Next month, we enter the 2000s, which means 2007 and 2002…which also means bad clothes and even worse hair. It also means some truly remarkable films, a phrase I use both enthusiastically and sarcastically.
Here’s the list. It’s long. Clearly, I’m bad at movies.
I look forward to watching the winner.
UPDATE: Voting for this month’s poll has closed, and there was a tie between two films, so I made an executive decision because I have that power, and the winner is…
I’m beyond excited.
Also it features this hit single: