Magic Mike: American Dreams and Confused Strippers

Magic-MikeBack when it was first released (and when I was still trapped in a suffocating fuckhole called my college life), MAGIC MIKE looked like a Glorified Stripetease Porno and no one could be blamed for thinking so. The plot centers around a male stripper and his dreams and that’s about it; if you were a judgmental prick like I was back in the days when I was still struggling to get a passing grade for my thesis, MAGIC MIKE would’ve been something you’d see on a newspaper ad and then ignore from that point on because you were too fancy for this level shit.

A few years later and a somewhat better person (less judgmental too), I decided to watch MAGIC MIKE for two reasons: first, I wanted to try something new and next, MAGIC MIKE XXL is (as of writing) literally around the corner and it’s either I watch a movie about Gyrating Buff Daddies or waste my time and money with TERMINATOR: GENISYS. Since I decided to avoid any PG-13 80’s remake like Binay in the motherfucking elections ever since the ROBOCOP remake from 2014 almost made me want to murder a motherfucker due to how bad it was, XXL became the obvious weekend movie to watch alongside ANT-MAN but in order to understand why Gyrating Buff Daddies Part 2 even became a reality, I had to watch Gyrating Buff Daddies Part 1 on DVD, aka MAGIC MIKE.

And lo and behold, it’s actually not a dumb porno movie made purely of fanservice. While MAGIC MIKE is indeed a movie about dudes stripping to the tune of suggestive hip-hop music on the surface, it’s actually a movie about a Male Human Stripper called Mike. I put emphasis on the Human part because if this were just another porno or a Michael Bay movie, Mike would be nothing but a walking slab of steak with zero personality that spends three fourths of the movie shirtless with little to no relevant dialogue but in MAGIC MIKE, Mike is a Male Human Stripper with hopes and dreams beyond grinding it on the stage.

What’s surprising about MAGIC MIKE is that beyond all the pelvic thrusting and eye candy for the women, MAGIC MIKE at its most basic is yet another story of disillusionment and dissatisfaction in a suburban world where things are just too perfect they’re boring. Long story short, it’s the American Dream plot again. With a premise focusing on male strippers, one would expect MAGIC MIKE to rock the boat with its unique starting point but it doesn’t do much with its new-found originality. Rather than do something crazy with the whole American Dream plot like how THE WOLF OF WALL STREET retold the Dream in a very vulgar, self-aware and darkly humorous manner, MAGIC MIKE just colors things by the number… only using strippers as the main focus instead of desk jockeys. You have the Well-meaning Suburban Guy working his ass off every day of the week with little to no satisfaction from his personal life, the New Guy In Town who’s basically a dick but gets all the shit he wants, the Annoying Love Interest that does nothing in the movie but play hard to get up until the end thus making her bitchy actions in previous scenes pointless, and the list goes on. Cue some obligatory drug scenes and spiraling into stupid decisions and you’re pretty good to go. Only with more Buff Dude Dancing shoved in between scenes and takes.

Yet even with all these familiar elements strapped to it, MAGIC MIKE is far from a bad movie. The cast does their job well and you actually give a fuck about what’s going to happen to these strippers, something no other fanservice extravaganza could even imagine themselves doing. It’s also admirable for its attempts to throw as much depth as possible into a story about Nearly Naked Male Dancers, even if this backfires when the movie decides to add way too many plot lines and arcs into a two hour run-time. On one hand, there’s Mike’s disillusionment with his night job while on the other hand there’s the rise of Adam, the new stripper in town who’s basically The Shit. Add in some unnecessary love life problems for Mike and his fucking business ventures and the movie ends up confused on which of the many plot threads to follow and eventually conclude. Some threads end well while others are just left hanging, which is a shame because all of these may have seemed like good ideas on the outlines for the story but they just didn’t work out in the end. If the writers just stuck to one main character to focus on and then built up from there, MAGIC MIKE would’ve been a tighter movie but as it is, MAGIC MIKE is a drama with way too many plots competing for the spotlight and grinding time.

MAGIC MIKE wasted the opportunity and potential to become something truly different and new since it just opted to become yet another Lost American Dream movie (only with more dancing and crotch shots). For a movie that had its ensemble cast made of Gyrating Buff Daddies at front and center, it didn’t stand out much and was content to play things regular and ordinary if not outright safe. Sure, it will most probably be remembered most for all that thrusting and it may end up becoming a punchline for some folks out there who love referencing movies in everyday conversations but as it is, MAGIC MIKE is something that should be given a chance since it’s, at the least, sincere about its themes and it isn’t pretentious about life issues like how some other movies with a similar topic would handle it. It’s rather simple compared to the Oscar Bait movies out there but it’s an honest and flawed effort.

Here’s hoping that MAGIC MIKE XXL will be as good as Gyrating Buff Daddies Part 1.

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