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Back in the day, I used to work at a strip club. No, not a male dance revue like the one at the center of MAGIC MIKE, but I served as a DJ as your fantasy girls took to the stage and took their tops off. Believe me… it was all the AC/DC, Kiss, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, etc., that I could handle on a regular basis, and, while I was always told by my friends how cool my job must be, it couldn’t have been anywhere near what they imagined it to be. I had to hear the same music day after day after day. I had to deal with the egos of divas who were nowhere near as important as they were in their own minds. I had to see them in fluorescent light (let’s just say there’s a reason clubs make it look dark and smoky up on the stage… so you don’t have to see everything I saw of their ladies in their more natural states), and, worst of all, I had to talk to them. Don’t get me wrong… some of them were perfectly nice girls, just doing the best with what they had in order to make some decent and fairly easy money taking their clothes. Then there were the other ones… the ones who were desperate to get pregnant by their men, so they wouldn’t run off with someone else, the ones who probably would have sucked my dick in the booth if I could have scored them some cocaine, the ones with severe daddy issues. Let’s face it… these were future MAURY guests in the making, before the results were ever in on those paternity tests. But it wasn’t a bad overall experience. I got to meet some interesting people. I got paid remarkably well, and it happened at a time in my life when working at a strip club still seemed kind of cool. But, behind the scenes, it wasn’t all the fun and games and awesomeness you might think it is in front of the stage.

And that’s really what MAGIC MIKE deals with. On the surface, it may be presented as a dirtier mix of COYOTE UGLY and SHOWGIRLS for the female audience, but deep down MAGIC MIKE is a dark exploration of what happens backstage in the male strip club industry, more BOOGIE NIGHTS than STRIPTEASE, seedy as opposed to glamorous. Steven Soderbergh has put together a pretty solid film about a stripper with the stage name Magic Mike (Channing Tatum), using his good looks, hard body, dance moves and street sense as a means to an end. He knows stripping isn’t a long-term option… but what it does allow him to do is save up, invest in small businesses, try to grow something for his future that involves following his dream of making custom furniture as a living that doesn’t involve wearing a man-thong or assless chaps. Is there plenty of booze to be drunk along the way? Absolutely. Are there drugs to be consumed? Sure. Women throwing themselves at you? Threesomes galore? Most definitely, but, while partaking in a few of the festivities, it is Mike’s goal to make stripping work for him without getting sucked into the lifestyle that can really destroy those that get in too far.

The prime example of that is Adam, otherwise known as The Kid (played by Alex Pettyfer). Here’s an under-21 guy taken under Mike’s wing, who goes from good-for-nothing bum (he won’t go in for job interviews if they require him to wear a tie) to stripping star on the rise, all because he’s given a shot. However, he quickly becomes the cautionary tale of what not to do when you’re given a little freedom against your immaturity. He may be invincible in front of the rabid crowd that turns out for Xquisite Male Revue regularly, but that doesn’t exactly translate to real life where actions have consequences when you fuck up.


Pettyfer isn’t really all that interesting to watch, because, while MAGIC MIKE does trend a lot darker than some may be expecting from a movie with dudes in banana hammocks, it never fully commits to showing the awful side of this business. Pettyfer’s Kid comes across as a troubled cliché, because the rest of the cast remain largely untouched or unfazed by the hazards and dangers that present themselves constantly. There are no pitfalls to Mike or his on-stage brethren Ken (Matt Bomer), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) or Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello). Even their boss and the club’s owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) seems to be doing quite well for himself with prospects of expanding his stripping empire from Tampa to a bigger market in Miami.

As a result, MAGIC MIKE seems to hold back far too much in how dark it is willing to go. When there’s one immature dumb-ass who’s been fucking up his life since the word go, it’s far less interesting than if all the characters carry deep flaws within. He’s the exception to the rule who falls more in line with “Well, that figures,” when you continue seeing him steer into trouble. Bomer and Manganiello are grossly underused, as it’s only their physiques used at all for the film, filling out the dancing troupe with their toned arms and ripped arms to please those who’ve come to see MAGIC MIKE solely for the eye candy. They easily could have fed into this side of stripping that people assume exists but don’t really know exists, only Soderbergh chooses not to take MAGIC MIKE in that direction, juxtaposing Pettyfer with Tatum’s more clean-cut good guy.

Tatum is the more intriguing of the two characters, which is surprising, because the role doesn’t carry as much juice. He’s not skipping out on deals with drug dealers, and he’s not at risk to OD, because his poor choices are few and far between. In fact, the only negative he seems to be facing is his poor credit score, because he works more than one job, he takes care of his newly acquired friend for no other reason than he’s a good guy, and he has drive and ambition to do something more with his life. Magic Mike is a boy scout outside of the club, yet what elevates him from bland to engaging is Tatum, whose charm and affability help form a character you can’t help but like watching… and that’s not even addressing his stage act. He’s a hero of sorts, always trying to do the right thing in a world where that’s not always possible, but somehow he manages to walk that line without rendering himself as uninteresting.

The only area where Tatum is brought down is in this pseudo-romance with The Kid’s sister Paige, played by Cody Horn. There is no clicking at all going on between Tatum and this emotionless actress who seems to yell all of her lines at the same volume whether she’s telling you she doesn’t like breakfast or she’s worried something is going to happen to her brother. There’s actually more of a spark between Magic Mike and the girl he fucks on the side (Olivia Munn), further shining a light on how lacking this aspect of the film is.


McConaughey also brings his best to a character with no designs on friendship, just making money. His interactions with Tatum slide from friendly and respectable to confrontational, as the true nature of their relationship and the positions each holds within them become clearer, but whether it’s speaking the lay of the land to his employees or to his club patrons, McConaughey is in his element with the many facets of Dallas in a small but quite important role.

More than being “the male stripper movie,” this is a Steven Soderbergh film. Long riveting including probably the best shot of a movie, which is just a long close-up reaction of Horn’s introduction to Mike’s club routine, make up large chunks of the movie, and there is an overall detached feel to the material. However, Tatum warms the film up with his increasingly improved screen presence, and is the driving force behind why MAGIC MIKE, in the end, does work.

I do think there was a better film to be made here, but, with what Tatum and Soderbergh chose to work with, it still winds up good. There’s more to MAGIC MIKE than dudes shaking their junk in women’s faces. This is a fascinating look at what does indeed go on inside the walls of a women’s strip club, and, just like Magic Mike’s career choice, the stage performances are really a way to get from point A to point B, but, as a guy, you shouldn’t be afraid to see a flick simply because it has men’s bare asses in it… because you’re only going to miss out due to your closed-mindedness. If you’re a woman, there’s enough flesh to keep you satisfied, but it’s really when MAGIC MIKE shifts from dancing to story that it gets good.


-Billy Donnelly

"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"

Follow me on Twitter.

Readers Talkback
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  • June 27, 2012, 4:08 p.m. CST

    Holy fucking first

    by chuffsterUK

    Wonder how many frustrated women will be even more frustrated after watching this?

  • June 27, 2012, 4:09 p.m. CST

    First again

    by B Arnold Quizzling

    For another movie I could give a shit about. Doh.

  • June 27, 2012, 4:13 p.m. CST


    by B Arnold Quizzling

    I was just first a second ago! Chuff, are you blowing the Kid to get ahead?

  • June 27, 2012, 4:21 p.m. CST

    Kidd, I have to say I was so happy to see you write 'kind of'...

    by ThulsaBoom

    ...I actually had a double take, because I have grown so used to Harry's 'kinda.'

  • June 27, 2012, 4:27 p.m. CST

    John Goodman would have been perfect in the role of MAGIC MIKE!

    by IAmTommyWiseau

    You know I'm right! #goodmanwasrobbed

  • June 27, 2012, 4:29 p.m. CST

    Sadly, Chris Farley is longer with us.

    by JAGUART

    Magic Mike, the role he was born to play.

  • June 27, 2012, 4:32 p.m. CST


    by Kevin

  • June 27, 2012, 4:33 p.m. CST

    by Kevin

    The Full Monty without the humor?

  • June 27, 2012, 4:38 p.m. CST

    The Kidd got caught jerking off in the theater

    by Lostboytejas

    during Brave that is, not Magic Mike (no homo)

  • June 27, 2012, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Is it possible? The Kidd...

    by acamp

    ...has actually started to earn some respect around here? He's gone through the hazing and now he's "one of us"?

  • June 27, 2012, 4:46 p.m. CST


    by Bouncy X

    had no clue he made this, damn. along with haywire, i guess he's really trying new and different things these days.

  • Big Dick Richie is a pretender to the throne next to the original. "Nick the what?" "The Dick."

  • June 27, 2012, 5:10 p.m. CST

    the KIDD

    by misterfurly

    shit talks women stripping for a living. what the fuck did you think they were going to act like? its a depraved sad place with girls who have serious issues and are exploited, and you spun shitty records their with your stupid 1992 pony tail goatee and earrings. thats like working at a homeless shelter and bitching about them being crazy and smelling. you're the dumbass that agreed to work in that fucked up environment and you denigrate them for possibly blowing you for coke? you are a class act man. why don't you hang out with some prostitutes and moralize about them while you make money off their exploitation. Kidd- you fucking suck man, and its a bummer your the new asshole writing most of the reviews. i really don't like your taste in movies or your opinions but why don't you dave your self righteous hypocritical judgements to yourself. if you were douchey enough to work at a strip club great, mention that its "seedy" or whatever but save your "I'm better than them, but ill make money off them" shit for another forum. it has no place at a "geek" review site.

  • June 27, 2012, 5:16 p.m. CST

    Strip club dj, huh?

    by adeceasedfan

    I could see that. Solid review. Negativity dialed back. Good job.

  • June 27, 2012, 5:18 p.m. CST

    @misterfurly, right on

    by AL Green

  • June 27, 2012, 5:28 p.m. CST

    I'm with @misterfurly

    by maxbrown

    Well put. This guy is seriously making me want to stop reading the site. He's making Harry look like Shakespeare, too.

  • June 27, 2012, 5:41 p.m. CST

    I too Dj'ed at a titty bar for a bit

    by mr.underwater

    Also bartender. The best times were when the girls would tell me to just play whatever, and I'd have them strip to Can, The Fall, and shit. Overall, a decent job. As mentioned, some of the girls (women) were walking episodes of Maury. Not to mention, the general glut of terrible patrons (packs of obnoxious frat guys, make-believe rap stars with posses, creepy stalker weirdos, dancers' boyfriends that would hang out all night-every night and expected the entire bar for free. etc)

  • June 27, 2012, 5:46 p.m. CST

    misterfurly needs to

    by Shawn Lealos

    learn reading comprehension skills

  • June 27, 2012, 5:46 p.m. CST

    Assless chaps?

    by Blue_Demon

    Aren't all chaps assless? Otherwise, they'd be leather pants, no? :)

  • June 27, 2012, 5:52 p.m. CST

    And misterfurly, and can't speak for where Kidd worked

    by mr.underwater

    But the place I worked wasn't depraved or sad at all. In fact, it was probably one of the happiest, close-knit places I've been employed at.

  • June 27, 2012, 5:53 p.m. CST

    Er, I can't speak for where Kidd worked

    by mr.underwater

  • But its also strangely sweet. And manly.

  • June 27, 2012, 5:59 p.m. CST

    A lady and her long-time girlfriend owned and operated

    by mr.underwater

    One's niece waited tables, the other's two brothers worked as doorman and bartender. Quintessential family business if you ask me.

  • June 27, 2012, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Wait, Kevin Nash is in this? The WRESTLER??

    by D.Vader

  • June 27, 2012, 6:02 p.m. CST

    The one time I went to a strip club...

    by D.Vader

    I saw a pizza delivered behind the DJ booth and all the non-working strippers descended on that box like a venue of vultures, grabbing what they could as fast as they could consume it. As much as I could sympathize (I do the same thing after a long day on set sometimes), it made me a bit sad. Oh, and the strip club was attached to a mini-mart or gas station of some sort, a fact that eluded us when we first walked in. Classssssssy.

  • It disappointed me and my friends when we watched it. I loved how it focused on the wolves hunting them and how they needed to keep moving, and the trouble of the terrain and things. But the ending just leaves you hanging. Would have loved it more if it gave some kind of climax. You don't get a rub and a tug without the big finish or your gonna have an angry customer. And about Magic Mike, sorry I'm not gay.

  • June 27, 2012, 7:36 p.m. CST

    Only wish it were in IMAX 3D

    by Prior Walter

  • June 27, 2012, 7:52 p.m. CST


    by JaredP

    kidd has totally lost it. he hated SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN and DARK SHADOWS, but liked a movie where guys get naked? FUCK OFF!!!

  • June 27, 2012, 7:52 p.m. CST


    by Kakii

    I can partially understand the "I saw them in the light" as ive seen some that yeah, beer goggles even though they had a fit body, couldnt be everynight though! Ive been to strip clubs with a bouncer friend and damn i would pay for that ass, good job I didnt lol Some of the girls are really hot and yes some are munters, luckily I got talking to (and more) the nice ones! I actually fancy watching this as its a different point of view on the whole striping/lapdancing genre

  • June 27, 2012, 8:01 p.m. CST

    Hey Kidd... You need to write a movie about your experiences in the club.

    by The_Credible_Hulk

    Now that's something I'd go see.

  • June 27, 2012, 8:45 p.m. CST

    Kevin Nash

    by A_Banned_Apart

    Getting his acting career going again,I see. He's apparently also up for a role in the next "Hunger Games". Way to go, Diesel.

  • June 27, 2012, 9:05 p.m. CST


    by Rupee88

    yes well said. The Kidd's strip club story was interesting but he did seem to believe he was "above it all" while still working there. What's wrong with chicks blowing you for drugs? But he does make some good points and there is nothing like a cunty good looking chick to be irritating and I'm sure he worked with many of them. But yeah his attitude is a bit off about his time there.

  • June 27, 2012, 9:21 p.m. CST

    Is all his custom furniture

    by Bass Ackwards

    Glass tables with different metal junk as the stem?

  • June 27, 2012, 9:41 p.m. CST

    Dancing At The Blue Iguana

    by thelordofhell

    Now THAT was a good stripper movie!!

  • June 27, 2012, 9:51 p.m. CST

    Why do I want to see this movie?

    by gamerawangi

    Because I constantly read comments (that have nothing to do with the film) from straights about "I'd do (over-rated actress) any time with my love tool!" Well, I'm gay. And ya know what? I don't care how bad or good this movie is. I get to see a buncha hot guys. Anyone out there wanna mock me? Then why doncha go to your local video store and rent (another) straight porn video? This is what it's like on the other side. Just in case you were... curious.

  • June 27, 2012, 10:54 p.m. CST


    by adeceasedfan

    Said club wasn't in Cary was it?

  • June 27, 2012, 10:58 p.m. CST

    This movie sounds awful

    by gaygoonie

    Does Soderbergh just cocktail it up and find everyone young with a weird story worthy of a film? "Let's make a movie for the stunt girl" "Let's make a movie for the dude with the stripper past" "Let's make a movie with the daughter of the studio head" He seems aimless.

  • I refuse to believe that the women at these types of things are more "respectful" or "mature" than men at strip clubs. BOOGIE NIGHTS showed some dark stuff that I really can't envision this movie showing, especially with it selling the romance subplot so much. Are we really expected to feel sorry for Tatum's character? He's a great looking guy who ...finally makes a lot of money. Groundbreaking. What is Soderbergh doing? Trying to show how routine and unoriginal movies are by reversing the male and female leads in particular genres? : This movie, and HAYWIRE. "See, even when its about MALE strippers its still the same movie..." "See, even when its a FEMALE action lead its still the same movie..."

  • June 27, 2012, 11:21 p.m. CST

    Oh shit, adeceasedfan, I forgot you were from the area

    by D.Vader

    I can't remember if it was in Cary. I thought it was in Durham, but upon reflection, it probably was in Cary. Was called "Solid Gold" or something to that effect? Ring a bell?

  • June 28, 2012, 12:15 a.m. CST

    d. vader Pure Gold?

    by adeceasedfan

    I went to high school in Cary. The convenient store was there long before the strip joint got saddled to it. I had a buddy that lived on the same street and became a regular. I went a few times still have a tshirt somewhere. Not really my thing.

  • June 28, 2012, 12:23 a.m. CST

    Kevin Nash really?!!?

    by Phategod2

  • Been seeing commercials on US TV non stop for almost a month already. The advertising budget must be bigger than the production budget. Can't recall any movie in a long time that they've thrown so many commercial ads out for. Really hoping it flops, not due to the subject matter but due to the fact that I'm sick of seeing/hearing it.

  • June 28, 2012, 6:11 a.m. CST

    Vader & adeceasedfan

    by Franky_Four_Fingers

    Pure Gold on N. Harrison Ave?

  • June 28, 2012, 7:03 a.m. CST

    Diablo Cody's memoirs on this subject are a pretty good read

    by Spandau Belly

    I'm surprised they/she didn't turn it into a movie.

  • June 28, 2012, 7:09 a.m. CST

    Jagger moves like...

    by mooli_mooli

    ... he's an old man with a dislocated hip who's pissed himself. Mmm, sexy.

  • June 28, 2012, 8:24 a.m. CST


    by adeceasedfan

  • June 28, 2012, 8:47 a.m. CST

    The reason I hate strip clubs...

    by JumpinJehosaphat that the girls all have terrible taste in music. I want to see a striper crying and dancing to Elliott Smith! That'd be boss-level stripping right there.

  • June 28, 2012, 9:07 a.m. CST

    Kidd really has a hard-on for Magic Mike!

    by Atticus Finch

    That would've been a good headline.

  • June 28, 2012, 9:07 a.m. CST

    Magic Mike is balls deep in the Kidd.

    by Atticus Finch

    That would've been a better headline.

  • June 28, 2012, 9:22 a.m. CST


    by Craig

    Just want to acknowledge the glorious beatdown that you delivered earlier in this TB.

  • June 28, 2012, 9:24 a.m. CST

    I couldn't tell you where it was, Franky Four Fingers

    by D.Vader

    But if its attached to a mini-mart, near the Triangle, and has "Gold" in the name, than it MUST be Solid Gold on N. Harrison Blvd. We went for my gf's best friend's birthday years ago. She had never been to a strip club and wanted to go. We ended up getting tricked into "buying" a couch for all of us to sit on and I got a lap dance by a girl who sweated all over me and told me she liked me shirt. She asked where I went to school and I told her I graduated from UNC, to which she replied her girlfriend goes to school there. I couldn't figure out her angle, but it did make me imagine her and her lesbian gf trying to take off my shirt. Then she went and jumped on a pizza.

  • June 28, 2012, 9:42 a.m. CST

    misterfurly vs the kidd


    Well done.

  • June 28, 2012, 9:44 a.m. CST

    The Kidd part 2

    by misterfurly

    Well I'm glad some of you agree. Not to be a super douche, I just don't agree with much of " the infamous" man says , and unfortunately his voice is the most heard at this site these days. I've been coming here since 1999 and stick around for the interviews mostly. He does an okay job for that- but the site has gone downhill in the news dept. it's telling when talk backers are scooping about Ryan shitface being cast in highlander and AICN posts way later. I can find out more about upcoming movies on iTunes trailers. Anyhow, mr kidds superior attitude was obnoxious especially considering the man dissed the avengers and praised rock of ages...whuuu? Geek card revoked.

  • June 28, 2012, 10:52 a.m. CST

    Soderbergh just loves them pretty White boys...

    by BNITT

    He never casts an other ethnicity in aesthetic roles. He just cant seem to get enough of them pretty white boyz!!!!

  • June 28, 2012, 12:01 p.m. CST

    Great review, Kidd

    by MisterManReturns

    I don't get this constant bashing. It's boring as hell, and is making the site almost unbearable to visit. Yes, I've stopped reading most Talkbacks, and made the mistake of checking this one out.

  • June 28, 2012, 12:01 p.m. CST


    by The Infamous Billy The Kidd

    I'm still trying to figure out when this dissing of THE AVENGERS/praising of ROCK OF AGES happened... "THE AVENGERS is incredibly fun and refreshingly exhilarating... when all is said and done, the film manages to bring you one thing that’s been missing from a lot of movies Hollywood has been releasing lately: joy." "However, that doesn’t disguise the fact that ROCK OF AGES isn’t a very good movie with a story that is virtually non-existent and minimal dialogue that really only serves to move from one song to another. Without the music, there’d be no reason to even bother with the film as there’s no there there beyond the production numbers. Making matters even worse, the screen version completely cuts the balls off what is a much darker rock and roll tale on stage... It’s not a quality musical, and it’s not even a good film, but it is a good time, and it’s hard to complain about that."

  • June 28, 2012, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Diss no Diss

    by misterfurly

    Its more that you "dissed" it far more than others "vs" is right . That fine if you had issues with it. But to give garbage like rock of ages a pass and say its a good time. This being a "geek" site I expect some amount of similar taste since I consider myself one. If this was a teenage girl movie review site I would understand there being fucking "glee" fans and other McDonald's garbage. I'll see 7 twilight reviews and next to none for "beyond the black rainbow" you guys should focus MORE on the ain't it COOL aspect. Not "ain't it gay" (no offense) so yes while you didn't fully diss the avengers the overall tone/vibe was u didn't dig a lot of it , but fucking Tom cruise belting out shit top 40 80's hits for mindless mall going teens is great fun? Blahh. You might look like a geek and maybe you are , you are just one with shitty taste.

  • June 28, 2012, 12:55 p.m. CST


    by The Infamous Billy The Kidd

    So let me get this straight... We're not supposed to review films honestly, because it may not gel with what you determine to be "geek"? We all have different opinions and different perspectives... that doesn't make for one geek voice to which everyone should subscribe.

  • and it is offensive the way you are using "gay", in case you weren't aware.

  • June 28, 2012, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Soderberg is one of the most overrated filmmakers working today

    by SergeantStedenko

    What has he done that was halfway decent since SL&V, other than Kafka?

  • all of which were halfway decent. But Girlfriend Experience, Full Frontal, solaris and the Ocean's movies were terrible.

  • June 28, 2012, 6:08 p.m. CST

    @sergeantstedenko @thekidd

    by misterfurly

    yes sir i'm aware "aint it gay" might offend which is why i said "no offense". Besides, making blanket generalizations that gay men really like barbara streisand, disco/techno, broadway musicals, tom cruise, mustaches blah blah has been what comedians have done forever so I'm really not saying anything new. I can stereotype white people and asians too and acknowledge its a stereotype. That said, the fact that AICN devotes so much time to fucking shitty musicals (umbrellas of cherbourg westside story and sound of music these aint) like rock of ages or garbage like the new footloose or whatever else the hell is review here- fucking "Step Up Annihilation: Rebirth 3-D" or whatever --none of its cool and those specifically i like to lump in as "gay". Brokeback mountain "gay" is great- mcdonalds studio product marketed at tweeny mallrats "gay" is not. Mr Kidd you can have whatever opinion you want, personally i don't like your taste and is certainly not what i would overhear people liking in a comic book shop talking about. The Fangoria/Starlog crowd that I'm familiar with would rather you devote time to NOT reviewing fucking tom cruise musicals, and devote time towards giving geeks reviews and news about shit we like. How many reviews did "house of the Devil" get here? "beyond the black rainbow"? very little if any and if you guys do you stick it in an "indie rundown " but yet you devote full article dissections of fucking twilight and footloose. We can get those shitty reviews ANYWHERE, why waste our time? fucking you and every other reviewer i guarantee will write a review for the new twilight- its aggravating for a site that used to skew more towards sci fi cult action fantasy genres. Now it only does a little. for anyone reading this, do yourself a favor and watch this- equal parts john carpenter, tarkovsky and cronenberg aaaaaand it has a synth score and takes place in the 80's. or you could ignore that

  • June 29, 2012, 1:24 a.m. CST

    Kids, this is THE movie you throw mayonaise from the back row

    by Obi Wanna Cannoli

    My wife was asking what movie to take the mother-in-law to this weekend. I think we found a winner! I will instead see a movie about a Teddy Bear...