R-Rated Comedies with Heart

Last night I had the interesting experience of seeing the new Channing Tatum film “Magic Mike.” Yes, with the new Spiderman, Moonrise Kingdom and Ted all out in theatres I went to see the stripper movie.

For those of you who don’t know, Magic Mike is a film about Mike ( Channing Tatum) who works at a strip club in Tampa owned by Dallas ( Matthew McConaughay). During his day job as a roofer, Mike meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and the film follows the relationship between the two. Adam, a very young and irresponsible guy trying to find his place, provides a nice contrast to Mike, who approaching 30 has been saving in order to leave stripping and pursue his dream of starting a custom furniture business.

While stripping is a large part of the plot, the film is surprisingly good at presenting realistic, and in some cases likeable, characters. Mike is a stripper, but he’s also a guy struggling to turn his life around while facing the challenges of a small business owner.

Although I’m sure most women people attending aren’t going to the film for character development or back story, the script pushed far enough to make me want more than just Channing Tatum showing off his dance skills or Alex Pettyfer bemusing me with his American accent.

Where were Adam’s parents? Why was he living with his sister Brooke( Cody Horn)?

And most importantly, why is Mike in such a state?

Tatum’s Mike has street smarts, charm, looks and a half-baked drive for success. He’s skilled, but not in a white-collar sense. He comes off as uneducated, but not stupid. Perhaps it’s my own life experiences with real-life Mikes( none of whom are strippers), but I was drawn to the realism of the character.

Too often I find myself going to films and being dazzled by the characters for their realism but not because they are relatable. In a way, Magic Mike defies that.

It’s not a film about blue-bloods or glamour. It’s a film about lower-middle class 20-somethings in Tampa, Florida. When’s the last time you watched a film set in Tampa, Florida?

At the end Mike has to make a decision: Does he keep living his life in the world of stripping and move to Miami or will he stay in Tampa and choose a different path? Miami, the city of nightlife and excitement. Tampa the city where there is apparently only one strip club and an IHOP.

Tampa or Miami? In a way it’s a question we all ask at some point. Where is the line where we decide our dreams are delusions and our realities might be more satisfying than fantasy.

Maybe it’s not F. Scott Fitzgerald, but if you can look past the thongs, questionable soundtrack,and the trauma of seeing Matthew McConaughey play the same character he plays in every comedy, then Magic Mike deserves 2 hours of your time.

Rating: I’d have to give this movie at least a $20 bill. Which translates to about 3.5/5 stars…

For a deeper look at the connotations of women seeing a movie about strippers and what this says about society’s ideas about objectification of the opposite sex please check out these articles:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/post/the-magic-mike-conundrum-if-its-ok-for-women-to-ogle-do-men-get-a-pass/2012/07/02/gJQAKBXpIW_blog.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/magic-mike-is-about-male-strippers-but-really-its-about-women/2012/06/27/gJQAvaEz8V_blog.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/post/not-so-magic-mike-lets-not-imitate-men-who-objectify-women/2012/07/03/gJQAgRjzKW_blog.html

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