‘Magic Mike,’ a ‘Boogie Nights’ tale of stripping

Channing Tatum stars in ‘Magic Mike.’

Channing Tatum has some real life experience to draw on for his starring role in Magic Mike, and let’s just say that many of the viewers will appreciate his firsthand knowledge.

It seems, in his pre-Hollywood days, Tatum spent a few months working as an exotic dancer in Tampa, Fla. And it just so happens that Tampa is the setting for Magic Mike, and Tatum is the hot headliner all the ladies bring their dollar bills to see.

Magic Mike is not as campy as it looks, and much to my surprise, it actually had quite a (dare I say) meaty storyline that’s about more than just men taking off their clothes.

Sure, there’s plenty off skin from Tatum and his co-stars, which include Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash and Adam Rodriguez, but the movie actually has some substance beyond stripping.

Mike (Tatum) is a 30-year-old entrepreneur by day, veteran stripper by night at the Xquisite all-male revue run by Dallas (McConaughey). He’s desperately trying to get a custom furniture business off the ground, but when your credit score is in the 400s (due to operating in all cash); it’s difficult to get a bank loan.

He sees potential in a guy he meets and calls the Kid (Pettyfer), so he takes the 19-year-old under his wing and together they enjoy partying, dancing and picking up women.

Mike promises the Kid’s older sister Brooke (Cody Horn) that he’ll do his best to watch out for her little brother. Unfortunately, the easily influenced Kid gets caught up in some dirty deeds that threaten to take him down.

Though Mike can easily bring any girl or two he wants home for the night, he sees Brooke as the rare girl whom he actually wants to take out on a date before bringing her home. But Brooke’s not too keen on the whole stripper lifestyle.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) and written by Reid Carolin, Magic Mike has quite a bit more of an edge than the previews indicate. I’ve heard some compare it to Boogie Nights, only with a stripping storyline instead of pornography. And sorry to disappoint the ladies, but there really isn’t all that much stripping going on. I didn’t time it, but I’d say it amounted to 15 minutes or less of the two-hour movie.

Tatum is having a banner year with successes such as 21 Jump Street and The Vow under his belt already. He plays Mike with just enough sympathy and sensuality that the audience will find it difficult not to like the character. And McConaughey (who has never had a problem showing off his physique) nicely plays the club owner who wants to expand and take his guys to the big time, Miami.

Small-screen stars Matt Bomer (White Collar), Joe Manganiello (True Blood) and Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miami) aren’t asked to do much besides stand around shirtless and in skimpy underwear.

The thing I didn’t enjoy about Magic Mike was the abrupt ending. It was like someone decided “OK, the movie is long enough” and it should end without any real resolution, especially for the Kid.

I heard some musings from some of the ladies in my screening audience who wondered why this movie wasn’t in 3-D. Sounds like a good idea for a sequel to me. ••

Movie Grade: B+