In today's Washington Times, Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews Magic Mike, director Steven Soderbergh's surprisingly entertaining look at the world of male strippers:
WIth "Magic Mike," director Steven Soderbergh and star Channing Tatum have concocted an easygoing and unexpectedly enjoyable look at the odd business of selling male skin — an honest and nonjudgmental movie about sex, commerce, ambition, fun, and all the ways they conflict and intertwine.
The story, drawn from Mr. Tatum's own real-life experience as an 18-year-old male exotic dancer, is a conventional tale of ambition, success, and peril, but it's nicely drawn and packed with small, human details: The movie takes place in a refreshingly realistic version of Tampa, Fla. — most people have real jobs, for example, like processing Medicaid payments or property insurance claims — rather than one of the catalog-perfect urban fantasylands that now seem to dominate the big screen.
Mr. Tatum plays Mike, a successful male stripper and entrepreneurial dabbler who adopts Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a new recruit to his stripping team. Working alongside Mike and under the tutelage of Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), Adam quickly becomes a sensation. But success, as always, brings risks as well as rewards.
Yet the movie declines to dwell on the risks or unduly moralize about the protagonists' choices. When Adam's sister Brooke (Cody Horn) asks about the profession's allure, Mike's answer is simple, direct and true: "He's 19 years old. There's women, money, and a good time."