That Magic Mike echoes Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights in thematic concerns, certain plot points, and in a superficial manner works as both a boon and a hindrance to Steven Soderbergh’s latest. It’s impossible not to compare the two films. On one hand, Magic Mike is nowhere near the film that Boogie Nights is, lacking the latter’s sheer scope. But on the other, the ideas and concerns that the two share actually help to create a more layered and nuanced film here. Not being quite as good as Boogie Nights isn’t the kiss of death, since Magic Mike — on occasion — can be quite wonderful and entertaining. The plot is simple, following our titular male stripper Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) who’s entering his 30s and sees stripping only as means to an end. When he meets people, he introduces himself as an entrepreneur, since he does construction and runs an auto detailing gig on the side, but his real dream is to make custom furniture. Early on in the film, he takes a wayward, lazy youth named Adam, whom Mike dubs “The Kid,” under his wing, introducing him to the fast-paced world of male stripping, while at the same time attempting to woo Adam’s prudish sister (Cody Horn). There’s little else to the film as far as plot goes besides where we end up, and to many, the lack of plot paints an unfair picture of a movie about nothing more than titillating middle-aged women with beefy hunks in assless chaps. And while that appeal is still there, this is an honest, frank, and often deep portrayal of both the sex industry and the people tangled up in it.
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