“Sodebergh is incapable of making a stupid movie.”
This is what my husband said to me when I came home from seeing Magic Mike in the theater, and he was right. What was marketed as “Hunky men shaking their hips,” turned out to be a deep mediation on entertainment, entrepreneurship, and finding your way in a world that keeps narrowing your options.
The plot ostensibly follows “Mike,” a jack-of-all-trades who makes most of his cash as an exotic dancer. Nearing 30, the multi-talented Mike is realizing that the “women, money and a good time” that exotic dancing offers him now may not be what he wants in the future. Teaching “The Kid” (a new dancer on the team) the ways of a male stripper while dealing with The Kid’s disapproving sister, brings up some questions most people have to answer at some point in their lives.
The film is skillfully constructed and beautifully shot. It has a ton of tiny character moments that add up to something much more. I have seen this film twice now, and every time it makes me think about where I’m going and what I’m doing and how one relates to the other.
It’s tempting to keep dancing in someone else’s club for “just one more year” until you’re too old to be pretty and too tired to smile. It’s tempting to keep taking what you’re given–even if it’s not what you were promised–because it’s better than nothing. It’s tempting to keep your head down and do your job and hope things change.
But they won’t—not if you don’t make a change first. Even if it turns out to be the wrong move, just moving can shake you out of your rut and help you see what the next step should be. Timing is the hardest part of prediction, but there is a moment where you can see that the trend is against you and it’s time to go.
Magic Mike is an excellent film, and I think the marketing probably worked against it. If you’re not into pretty young men shaking their stuff and want something a little deeper, it’s worth a look. If you’re great storytelling and you’re into pretty young men shaking their stuff…What are you waiting for?