There are six things that a film needs to get female viewers, regardless of the quality or originality of the plot, and those six things? That would be a six-pack. Cast two actors who look like they have just been created from an Adonis mould as the male leads and you're guaranteed to have drooling women all over the globe throwing singles at their local cinemas screens.
Mike (Channing Tatum) is a construction worker and entrepreneur by day and a male stripper by night. When he comes across slacker Adam (Alex Pettyfer), he gives the kid a chance and lets him help Mike and the rest of his stripper friends with their acts. However, when one of them collapses, Adam is shoved on stage in his place. Much to the dismay of his sister Brooke (Cody Horn), Adam is given the opportunity to join the world of male stripping. It isn't long before it becomes painfully obvious that this particular occupation involves an excess of easy money, women, alcohol and most dangerous of all, drugs, and that for a nineteen year old boy, it's difficult to say no to the party lifestyle that has been thrust upon him...
Despite the screenplay being based on the leading-man's experiences as a male stripper before hitting it big in Hollywood, Tatum's performance was often a hit or a miss. Although he was fantastic in certain scenes (his Marilyn Monroe scene in particular), there were others in which he repeatedly stumbled over his lines. There's a scene where Mike confronts Brooke late on in the film, and it took him roughly five or six attempts to spit out a single line of dialogue. Although in small doses, it can contribute to the a more natural performance, the fact that this repeatedly happened just hinted towards bad editing and an actor who forgot his lines. Pettyfer on the other hand, handled his character very well, possibly because Adam's character development is more hard-hitting than that of Mike. It's a classic story of a downwards spiral, and I personally feel as though if the film focused more on Adam, it would have proven a more interesting watch. Scene-stealer Matthew McConaughey gave the most memorable performance out of everyone however as the terrifically sleazy owner of the strip club Xquisite. Sadly, Dallas didn't feature heavily, with the audience instead being subjected to the terribly forced relationship that was forming between Brooke and Mike. Tatum and Horn's chemistry did not electrify, it barely even fizzled. It doesn't matter how good an actor you are, chemistry is something that is very difficult to create if there is nothing there to begin with.
Steven Soderbergh's directing involved some interesting shots, with the predominantly female audience being rewarded for buying tickets to the film by lengthy and increasingly artistic montages of abs and various other muscles. The most intriguing scene had to be Adam's drug-fuelled meltdown towards the end of the film, flashing lights and quick cuts reflecting just how confusing the world is for someone on drugs. There have been reports that the film isn't about male-stripping at all, and is really about social class. I believe that it is rather a film about the lifestyle of strippers, rather than the act of stripping itself. If it were truly a film about social class, then wouldn't there be some sort of indication to that in it's trailer, to get more heterosexual men at least interested in watching?
The film's downfall was it's attempt to please everyone. Audience members who went there to watch an unfolding love story, to laugh at some crazy antics, to be shocked by a dramatic script or even the ones that were just there to drool over the sexy cast members, the writer attempted to please everyone. The result was rather a film that suffered from a multiple personality disorder. The love story fell flat due to the actor's lack of chemistry, the comedic and dramatic scenes were few and far between... in fact, the only people that walked out truly happy were the people who were shallowly just there for the cast members.
In short: 'Magic Mike' is like an x-rated 'Step Up', lots of fancy moves and eye-candy, but not that much going on beneath the speedos.