‘Magic Mike’: Down to the bare bums

“What’s that? Take my pants off? Did you say you wanted me to take my pants off?”

Given that this is a Steven Soderbergh film, we were expecting that his movie about an ambitious male stripper/entrepreneur would add considerable heft to all the hip thrusts. But this is no “Boogie Nights.” It might be more appropriate to say it’s right in the middle of a spectrum in which “Boogie Nights” and “Burlesque” sit on opposing sides.

While there’s drug use and overdoses, there’s also so, so much grinding bare male bottom. The stripping sequences are at first as cringe-inducing as they are impressive — particularly Channing Tatum’s expert floor humping (really, you’ve never seen wood flooring get so much affection) and his fluid, hypnotic choreography. But the frequency of those stripping scenes is so high that we eventually felt them coming with the same sense of dread felt by a musical-hater at a performance of “Sister Act.”

Channing Tatum is the title character, Magic Mike, who in addition to dancing hopes one day to develop a custom furniture business — a bit like that hooker with a heart of gold, but he also likes to sleep around quite a lot. On a roofing job, he befriends 19-year-old college dropout Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and coincidentally draws him into Club Xquisite, where Adam eventually becomes a dancer himself. Then there’s also Adam’s sister, played by vacant-eyed, mouth-breathing Cody Horn. She underplays her lines so much that she seems partially lobotomized for most the film. Her chemistry with Tatum is obviously lacking.

Despite a thin, somewhat predictable storyline, Soderbergh adds style where the substance is lacking. Like his “Ocean’s” films, a snappy score ups the excitement level when all the wiggling isn’t doing it for you. It’s also beautifully shot. But honestly, straight men and gay women need not bother. It’s all about the booty dance.

If you go
   
“Magic Mike”
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey
Rating: R 
Grade: 2/5


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