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John Lamb, Published June 26 2012

Lamb: ‘Magic Mike’ no illusion

Oversized men of America, prepare to feel small and insecure.

You’ll feel pretty insignificant next to the giant, glistening, hairless chests on the silver screen in “Magic Mike.”

That’s assuming men pony up to see Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello and other hard bodies as male strippers.

Um, on second thought, I know a bunch of guys who will line up for this flick. Too bad the I-Beam isn’t still around to offer shuttle service to the theater.

Some female friends are already revving up for the movie, which comes out on Friday.

“I don’t care if ‘Magic Mike’ is the stupidest movie to come out of Hollywood in a year,” one friend recently posted on Facebook. “In fact, I don’t even care if the sound works.”

This is, of course, an overstatement, because nothing could be worse than “John Carter.” Besides, she surely wants to hear McConaughey’s character, Dallas, warn fans it’s illegal to touch the dancers, only to add: “But I think I see a lot of lawbreakers up in this house tonight.”

OK, so it’s not Shakespeare. (Which is not a male stripper’s name, by the way.) But female audiences were ready for some alpha male eye candy after years of suffering female skin flicks like “Coyote Ugly,” “Showgirls” and “Striptease.”

Actually, this is shaping up to be the summer of silver screen studs. Not only are the men of “Magic Mike” standing front and center, Tom Cruise is puffing out his rock hard-looking chest in “Rock of Ages.” Later this summer the muscular mercenaries in “The Expendables 2” flex their pecs. I haven’t seen “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” but I hear Benjamin Walker puts the abs in this abolitionist.

And these are the major stars finally going “Full Monty,” not some pasty, working class blokes.

Granted, it’s not much of a stretch for some actors.

“Magic Mike” is inspired by Channing Tatum’s time as a male dancer. (What do you use as a stage name when your real name sounds as manufactured as “Channing Tatum?”) Anyone who has seen “True Blood” knows Joe Manganiello loses his shirt faster than you can cry “Mon Dieu, loup-garou Cajun, tres sexy!” And really, does McConaughey ever have a role in which he isn’t required to be sweaty?

But it is Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh cutting through the steaminess in this story of a veteran dancer (Tatum) teaching a young buck how to play the game.

Who remembers who directed “Coyote Ugly?”

Who even remembers any of the lines? To quote a friend, “I didn’t even care if the sound worked.”

I was there for the cinematography.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533