I have given up on director Steven Soderbergh, as of his latest film “Magic Mike.” Granted, a movie about male stripers would not normally be my first choice. However, during the dog days of summer, when the pickings include either movies I have seen, or movies I did not want to see, and, with a deadline looming, a decision had to be made. Besides, I reasoned, “Magic Mike” was directed by Soderbergh, who is considered to be a very good director. Granted I have not particularly liked a movie of his since 2000’s “Traffic,” but there was hope that maybe “Magic Mike” would be good.
I should have known something was awry when I walked into the appropriate auditorium at the United Artist’s multiplex in Astoria and found that I was the only one there. Later, in the thick of the movie, after a few other patrons had shown up, my predominant thought was that it must have taken either great effort or great indifference to make a movie about strippers, regardless of gender, that was this talky and boring.
In “Magic Mike” scene after scene plays as if the actors were making it up as they went along. I have nothing against actors ad-libbing, as long as cast and director know what they are doing. For example, the late director Sidney Lumet, known for rehearsing his actors in advance and having an actual script, said that the more rehearsed your cast is the better they will be at improvising. In the case of “Magic Mike” the result is unfair to the audience. We have pledged time and money to this film. It is wrong to expect us to sit through scenes that are needlessly lengthy due to the fact that the cast is still figuring out its dialogue, while the director does not seem to have shot enough coverage to enable his editor to shorten the proceedings.
In addition, the scenes in “Magic Mike” do not build upon one another. Plot points (one of the strippers is dealing drugs) come out of nowhere and seem to exist to give the film some semblance of a story.
“Magic Mike” stars Channing Tatum as the titular character and Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, the leader of a Chippendales like male stripper club in Florida. Dallas is a Joel Grey “Cabaret” like, slightly devious, Master of Ceremonies.
We see many well choreographed production numbers of the strippers at work, providing the only life that this otherwise lifeless movie has. I mean, how do you mess up strippers? Cody Horn provides a bright spot as Brooke, the caring sister of one of the strippers and a possible love interest for Mike.
Soderbergh has done a lot better. For those of you who are curious enough, my favorite of his movies is “Out of Sight” (1998) which has a great script by Scott Frank, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard. The film is intricate, smart and funny. “Out of Sight” also has a terrific cast which includes Jennifer Lopez (easily her best work as an actress), George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Albert Brooks, Dennis Farina, and Michael Keaton, among others. Number two, for me, is Soderbegh’s thoughtful revenge thriller “The Limey,” (1999) starring Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda.
“Magic Mike” is playing locally at AMC Loews Village 7, 66 Third Avenue.
“Magic Mike” director Steven Soderbergh, 2012,
Warner Brothers Picutres, 110 minutes, rated R
Posted on August 2, 2012, in New and tagged Albert Brooks, AMC Loews Village 7, Channing tatum, Cody Horn, Dennis Farina, Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Magic Mike, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Keaton, Out of Sight, Peter Fonda, Sidney Lumet, Steven Soderbergh, Terence Stamp, The Limey, Traffic, United Artists. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.