Magic Mike is not a movie that’s been pinging very loudly on my radar, and so it wasn’t really until today that I figured out what it’s all about: Channing Tatum as a veteran male stripper tutoring a younger guy (while dating said young guy’s sister) and deciding that though the work certainly gives him an ego boost he no longer finds it very fulfilling to be appreciated for his physical qualities: it hard to find his own self worth off the stage.
And that’s pretty interesting, as we don’t get a lot of serious depictions in our media of male characters who have made careers out of their looks alone, much less time spent on the personal struggles such a character might have with being in that position, like having to be encouraged by a female significant other (often it’s the other way around) to remember that they have other qualities that they could build a life on. (In the titular Mike’s case, he makes custom furniture). The loose woman who’s shown to be incomplete emotionally because she encourages men to objectify her and must be rescued by a loving man is a practically ancient story. According to director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Reid Carolin, that sort of gender flip was what interested them in making the movie in the first place, and between them and Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer, who play the movie’s male stripper characters, that process has been kind of revelatory.