Movie review: “Magic Mike”


It will tell you something about the weather hereabouts when I say that it was so flippin’ hot last weekend that we did not run out to see “Magic Mike.”



We managed to see it on Tuesday evening, however.



You won’t be surprised to hear that we were nearly the only men in the (packed) theater. It was definitely a Chippendales crowd: lots of mamas (and a few grandmas), giggly and excited. I was worried that they might lose their composure during the movie and rush the screen, but I am delighted to report that the theater was utterly silent during the film: all those mamas and grandmas wanted to soak up all that 100% American biceps-and-baby-oil goodness.



Naturally there were those, um, dance routines. Channing Tatum, in case you didn’t know, was a stripper for a while, and can really dance. He’s amazing: athletic, erotic, and funny all at the same time. He goes from a gawky kid’s grin to a smoldering stare in nothing flat.  Watching his routines made me feel funny, like when I sit on the washing machine during spin cycle.  The other cast members (Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez) do elaborate routines too, but they’re amateurs compared to Channing. (I wanted more Joe Manganiello. He’s adorable: huge and winsome. They give him lots of sidelong comedy bits: there’s a wonderful scene of him sitting at a sewing machine mending an outfit and wearing glasses. Did I mention he’s adorable?)



The movie begins with a young guy (Alex Pettyfer) with no prospects getting drawn into the male-stripper racket. Fun, games, lots of one-dollar bills.



Channing (AKA Magic Mike, the star dancer) takes Alex under his wing, partly at the behest of Alex’s serious sister (Cody Horn), who warns Channing that he’d better take care of her brother. And Channing tries, very hard, to take care of Alex.



But Alex does not want to be taken care of. He loves the whole scene: sex, drugs, excitement.  And Channing begins to realize that he’s too old for this. (There’s a scene in a bank in which he’s practically begging for a SBA loan to fulfill his dream of setting up a custom-furniture business; he’s even wearing glasses, in order to look more serious and earnest. The loan officer nearly orgasms when she sees him, but he doesn’t get the loan.)



The whole movie covers the space of three months. And it ends with a kiss.



The women sitting behind us howled with anger when they realized that there would be no more gyrating men. They felt cheated.



One last word: Matthew McConaughey plays the manager/owner of the strip club as a manipulator, and a weasel, and a sociopath, and very charming.  I generally loathe him, but he was perfect in this role; he even does a strip number that’s almost (but not quite) as erotic as any of Channing’s. Partner says he might be nominated for an Academy Award for this role, and I think it’s possible.



Go see it, girls, if you haven’t already, several times.



(But I still say we could have used a little more Joe Manganiello.)


Coming attractions: “Magic Mike”


If you have not yet seen the cover of the May 25 issue of “Entertainment Weekly,” get out of your chair right now and scamper off to your local newsstand and buy a copy.



It’s a big heavenly picture of Channing Tatum, dreamboat that he is, unbuttoning his shirt and looking right at you, reader, with the devil’s eyes and a funny little I’m-gonna-get-you smile. (I give you a little sample of it above. To paraphrase Garth in “Wayne’s World”: when I look at it, I feel funny, like when I climb the rope in gym class.)



But wait! There’s more! The cover folds out into a full tableau of the four leads of Channing’s new movie, “Magic Mike,” which is all about male strippers: Channing himself, the immense Joe Manganiello, a very nice-looking newcomer named Matt Bomer, and a still-good-looking (if vacant) Matthew McConaughey.



That cover is a little piece of heaven on earth.



And may Heaven bless my friend Tab, who gave me his copy of the magazine and graciously said I could keep it. As I said to him yesterday morning: “Today you have made an old man very happy.”



This movie has been a long time incubating, and there has been much buzz about it. Channing Tatum, who also came up with the idea for the movie, was himself a male exotic dancer, and is refreshingly unapologetic about it (go see his intro dance / monologue from his appearance on SNL a few months ago). There is something really very likeable about him. (Translation: I would cheerfully have his baby, or as many babies as he wants to have.) There was a joke on a recent episode of “30 Rock” about “Channing Tatum’s meteoric rise to fame,” and I get it: where did this guy come from? And why did we not know about him sooner? (I loved watching him goofing around in “21 Jump Street”; he’s like a big kid, and I think it comes naturally to him, and it’s very much part of his charm.)




I don’t mean to slight the other members of the cast of “Magic Mike.”  Manganiello is really wonderful, and he really covers a lot of terrain, and he looks like he would be fun to play cribbage with, if you understand me. Bomer is a nice discovery for me, as I had no idea he existed up until now. McConaughey is – well, he’s not my cup of tea. He fairly radiates dull and shallow; he’s nicely built, but he has a dessicated air, like a piece of salt codfish. But, with a bag over his head, he might serve to while away a dull afternoon.



If I sound shallow myself, well, surprise, I am shallow. Remember the Gelman-Waxner Rule: the enjoyment you take away from a movie is in direct proportion to the attractiveness of its leading actors / actresses.



“Magic Mike” premieres June 29.



Do you think it’s too soon for me to get in line for tickets?



Movie review: “21 Jump Street”


Partner and I, for various reasons, were feeling in need of a nice entertaining movie on Sunday.  The big movie of the weekend, of course, was “The Hunger Games,” which involves lots of nice fresh-faced teenagers killing one another, so we didn’t think that would quite entertain us in the right way.  And none of the movies we’re really looking forward to (“The Three Stooges” with Sean Hayes and Will Sasso!  “Wrath of the Titans” with Liam Neeson!  “The Avengers” with everybody under the sun!) has come out quite yet.



So we took a chance on “21 Jump Street,” with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.



We snorted with laughter through the whole thing.



This is comedy done right.  It’s hugely over-the-top: Channing, as the muscular cute dumb guy, is too dumb for words; Jonah, as the plump sensitive smart guy, is much too delighted with himself when he finally gets some recognition.  The original 1980s TV show (which, I have to admit, I didn’t really watch) was afterschool-special serious: overage actors infiltrating high schools to uncover plots dealing with drugs, guns, crime.  This movie makes glorious fun of this conceit.  Channing Tatum is gigantic and obviously much too old to be in high school; no one takes him seriously for a moment. 



Which brings us to the crux of the matter: Channing Tatum.



You know that I subscribe to the “Libby Gelman-Waxner Rule” concerning movies and actors.  Libby, a movie reviewer for “Premiere” magazine back in the 1990s (who was actually Paul Rudnick writing under a pseudonym) was responding to a reader’s letter.  “Libby,” the writer said, “you seem to like or dislike movies depending on whether or not you think the leading actor is attractive.  Libby, that’s not what movies are all about.”  To which Libby responded, simply: “Oh yes they are.”



This is one of the most enlightened comments anyone has ever made about the movie industry.  You could also call it the “Hugh Jackman rule” or the “Daniel Craig rule,” but let’s call it “Libby’s rule” for the sake of historicity.



Anyway: Channing Tatum is fabulous in this movie.  We first see him as a jerky 2005 high-school kid with long stringy hair, smirking at Jonah Hill’s failed attempt to ask a pretty girl to the prom; then as a police-academy trainee who can wrestle any perp to the ground in three seconds or less, but who can’t memorize the Miranda rights; then as a cop, partnered with his old enemy Jonah Hill.  He is carefree and goofy and very sexy.  (While he’s undercover in high school, his chemistry teacher is hypnotized by him.  “No!” she shrieks.  “Don’t look at me!  Look at me!  No, don’t look at me!”)



If you saw him a few months ago on Saturday Night Live, you’ll know what I mean.  He has a nonchalance and charm that some of the other meaty cuties of the day – Sam Worthington, Tom Hardy – just don’t have.  (You know he was a stripper, right?  I have a feeling he learned it there.  He’s unashamed of his body, and very sure of himself, and he likes being admired.)



But enough about Channing.  Heaven knows I could talk about him all day long.



The movie is very cute.  We laughed a lot, actually.  The MacGuffin that pushes the plot forward is a drug called HFC, which makes people do very peculiar things.  (The drug and its effects are key in a couple of very funny scenes.)  There are lots of good actors in small roles: Chris Parnell from “SNL” / “30 Rock”, Nick Offerman from “Parks and Recreation,” Ice Cube as an angry police captain, even a couple of cameos (I won’t tell you!) from the TV version of “21 Jump Street.”



And Channing Tatum wrestling with Jonah Hill.  Channing Tatum clobbering Jonah Hill over the head with a big stuffed giraffe.  Channing Tatum straddling a perp at the beginning of the movie . . .






I give this movie my very highest recommendation.



Go see it.



%d bloggers like this: