Magic Mike

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When a movie’s opens with a half-naked Matthew McConaughey donning cowboy attire and grabbing himself in front of a crowd of hyperventilating women…that can go one of two ways. Either the film tumbles into a pit of disastrous clichés or it provides the basis of a standout foray into something that hasn’t been adequately captured on celluloid since “The Full Monty.” Fortunately, “Magic Mike“ proves to be the latter.

Many of the high profile blockbusters released this summer have been major letdowns. “Magic Mike” proves to be a refreshing departure from the run-of-the-mill fluff that’s typically forced on audiences. Much like Steven Soderbergh’s “Haywire,” released earlier this year, the film is an alluring cinematic venture that effectively illustrates the mood and scenery of the story it’s telling.

There’s more to Mike (Channing Tatum) that meets the G-string gazing eye. A construction worker by day and bump-and-grind sensation at club Exquisite by night, he dreams of one day running his own furniture company (who knew!). Well carrying out a mundane roofing job, he meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), who can’t seem to hold down a steady gig. One thing leads to another and before you know it, Adam too is shaking a tail feather for some good ol’ crumpled dollar bills. Yay! Everybody’s a winner.

Not quite. It’s clear that Adam is grappling with some deep seated issues. In fact, that seems to be the case with most of the characters, including Mike, whose first instinct is to make a booty call when the going gets tough. Wisely, the film doesn’t reveal what the origins of these drawbacks are. This is particularly true of the club’s owner, Dallas (McConaughey), who can best be described as batsh-t crazy. In skin tight leather, McConaughey delivers one of the best performances of his career.

For a film about scantily clad night owls, many of the scenes rely on the natural illumination of the summer sun. These shots are contrasted by the carefully primed stage lighting of the over-the-top performances. One moment, two carefree young men are enjoying a lush Florida afternoon the next they are props in an illustriously choreographed dance number. The whirlwind life of a male stripper is conveyed in a manner that is surprising compelling.

Eye candy, an engaging plot, fab dance rountines, and hilarious montages give “Magic Mike” an intriguing edge.