As I watched "Magic Mike", I was entertained and hopeful. Some of its elements were fascinating and the storyline seemed to be heading in an interesting direction. Each new scene seemed to lead toward a climax that could make the movie's run time worthwhile.
And then it ended.
I was confused. So many things didn't make sense. So many questions were left unanswered. Where was the conflict's resolution? What happened to Adam? When did Mike and Brooke fall in love? What was with Tarzan's character? Did I have the wrong mindset?
The problem with "Magic Mike" is that it attempts to appeal to every form of movie watcher and, instead, appeals only to the ladies fanning themselves while mesmerized by abs and biceps. While Mike (a surprisingly decent Channing Tatum) is an interesting character, the movie's structure and story suffer from Steven Soderbergh's direction.
1. "Magic Mike" has no goal. No themes, no morals, no bottom-line. We see hints of anti-drug sentimentality, and Soderbergh draws a little attention to the effects of the male stripper world on the male mind. But these elements are only hints, and are abandoned by the time the credits roll. Mike doesn't regret his actions as a stripper, only that he continued to be one into his 30's. He dabbles in drugs in one (hyper-extended and annoying) montage-esque scene, but that event too has few direct consequences.
All this would be okay if the movie was a comedy. However...
2. "Magic Mike" isn't funny. Not by any stretch of the imagination. We have some witty remarks that are bound to induce some smiles, but the only laughs come from people's "shock" from the dance numbers. There are no jokes, no slapstick humor, and the dance numbers really aren't that amusing (to a male). The only truly funny scene is when Adam (a bored looking Alex Pettyfer) is first backstage with Tarzan and the other strippers.
If this movie lacks a drama's thematic elements and a comedy's laughs, then it must be a romance, right?
3. "Magic Mike" isn't romantic. In fact, Mike and Brooke (Cody Horn) don't let any sparks fly at all. A relationship between the two isn't even a possibility until they get into their first shouting match, near (what I assume to be) the movie's climax. Their relationship is never given time to grow because the movie's first half tries to build a story around Adam and Mike's relationship. However, the second half drops Adam almost completely and attempts to bring in Brooke. Both relationships fall flat, not to mention Adam ends up as a terrible human being.
In the end, what the audience gets is a casserole of movie elements and little of the satisfaction that comes from watching these types of movies because Soderbergh shoots high and misses everything. Also, "Magic Mike" is peppered with extended "erotic" dance numbers that add nothing to the plot and exist purely to satisfy the target audience: middle-aged women. These scenes, in addition to the movie's schizophrenic lack of direction, will disappoint any movie lover's hopes of seeing a film that provides insight into the mind of a male stripper.
At least, the audience could have used a decent ending.