What has happened to Matthew McConaughey?
What has happened to Matthew
McConaughey? Did someone put down Kate Hudson? Did he look into the eyes of his
perfect children and decide he wanted to leave behind more than a string of
weak romantic comedies? Arguably a film centred around a male strip club,
which has our Texan lothario down to but a leather wisp of dignity, may not be
the best legacy to leave but, since last year’s The Lincoln Lawyer,
Matt’s pulled his act together in a string of wholly agreeable roles, most
notably of late as the ominous catalyst in William
Friedkin’s Killer Joe.
If it wasn’t for Soderbergh’s
name at the helm, Magic Mike could be perceived as a flesh-baring affair which
is all muscle and no meat. Shots of Tatum’s
pom pom moving at 100 reps a second certainly raises pulses but, as with most
things, under the PVC and penis pumps lies a sinister edge. McConaughey for one
proves the epitome of icy charm; even dressed as a skin-tight Uncle Sam amidst
a semi-naked army what should be raunchy and fun is somehow eerie instead.
And then there’s Tatum. Much as Magic Mike takes to the
stage to bump and bounce for his passion of furniture design, the Tate has done
his time (as victims of Dear John
will agree) to get to the heights of Soderbergh. On stage he’s the vision of a
fading star, pushed by expectation and now a big brother-like responsibility to
juvenile screw-up Adam (Alex Pettyfer.)
Fatally dishevelled, Adam’s doe-eyed, slow-witted frame is
filled perfectly by Pettyfer, who has strode out from under his Prince Charming
typecasting to deliver a very honest depiction of lost youth.
Obviously Soderbergh is no fool, the peg of Magic Mike is
the skin and he has his leads sweating it out in any number of scenarios and
spandex arrangements. Tatum’s skills aren’t laid to waste, shunning the tacky
coyness that would usually be associated with male stripping in favour of slick
down and dirty choreography. Offstage he is completely likable, totally at
ease, returning to the comic form that was undoubtedly the best thing about this
year’s 21 Jump Street.
But there isn’t a whisper of humiliation or degradation.
True, these men are objectified but by a throng of squawking women flapping
wads of cash in a helpless state of hysteria, allowing them to remain
completely in control. It’s in the bleak light of day that they become subject
to judgment and humiliation, partially from the film’s excellent female leads Olivia Munn and Cody Horn. A call for cash leads to some majorly ill-advised
decisions and the shine comes off for a few acts which may prove a bit of a
shock to those expecting a full-frontal feast and little else but in spite of
this Magic Mike proves a promising new chapter for a great ensemble cast and
ruddy good fun as well.
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