How Much Should You Pay to See: Magic Mike
by Ester Bloom and Adam Freelander
Ester: It’s HUNK SMASH time!
Adam: Whoa I don’t think I realized till just now that this movie is an enormous financial success. $7 million budget and it’s made $77 million so far!!
Ester: What was the waxing budget on this film?
Logan: SRSLY. Serious amounts of dollars. Second maybe only to 300.
Ester: I read that they’re already talking about making MAGIC MIKE 2.
Adam: THE AMAZING MAGIC MIKE! It will answer all your unanswered questions, like what happens when the pig eats all the ecstasy.
Logan: It would be a movie about a furniture maker, ostensibly.
Ester: Oh, all addicts relapse. Not to be completely depressing! Also, um, spoiler alert?
Logan: MM better sign on. Matthew McConna-whatever, not Magic Mike.
Ester: With the money he made from this, can M2 please buy himself an easier-to-spell name?
Adam: I memorized how to spell his name in advance of this chat. Mc, Con, Augh, Ey. McConaughey is absolutely undersold in the promotion of this movie. Though I do think most McConaughey roles are essentially variations on the same dude.
Ester: A very entertaining, vain, devil-may-care, guitar-playing dude.
Adam: Yup, you forgot bongo-carrying.
Ester: Channing Tatum, by contrast, I had never before seen in anything. (I don’t really watch movies based on action figures.)
Logan: DID YOU NOT SEE THE VOW ?!
Ester: NO? Is that like THE NOTEBOOK?
Logan: It’s very very close to THE NOTEBOOK. Almost the same. Different dude. Tatum versus Gosling.
Ester: No contest.
Logan: (No contest.)
Ester: However I did think that, in this film, Tatum’s character is like a combination of (Ryan Gosling in DRIVE) + (Ryan Gosling in CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE) with a dash of (Nicole Kidman in MOULIN ROUGE) thrown in.
Adam: Spoiler alert! He dies of consumption.
Ester: Yeah, I knew that moment, where he coughed at the 20 minute mark, didn’t bode well. COUGH AND DIE. It’s a movie rule.
Ester: Did you recognize him when he came in dressed as Marilyn Monroe?? That was pretty amazing.
Adam: That’s acting. That’s what the craft of acting is all about.
Ester: More Tatum in drag, I say!
Logan: I can’t wait to see the cut scene that will explains that. And the cut scenes that explain the rest of the movie.
Adam: They must have filmed so much more dancing than they even used in the movie. And there is already a lot in the movie.
Ester: Oh man. I would pay to see the deleted scenes. The dance sequences were so much fun!
Logan: I thought they did a really, really good job of incorporating the dance scenes without it feeling like they were cutting to long involved musical numbers. But yes: director’s cut, 100%.
Ester: Overall, Adam, did you enjoy this foray into the world of male stripping in Florida?
Adam: Yeah, I definitely enjoyed this yellow movie.
Logan: It really was a yellow movie. I missed the day in middle school english when we learned what yellow meant.
Adam: I don’t think that means anything. except “cowardly” in BACK TO THE FUTURE 3.
Ester: I thought all the yellow worked. It made what could have been an “exotic” location seem dry & sapped of color. JAUNDICED even. it sent a subtle message to the viewer that none of this was meant to be romanticized
Adam: It made it all a little seedy. Except, notably, for the club scenes, which have no yellow and are shot and lit really well.
Logan: OH INTERESTING.
Adam: Am I correct in imagining that male strip clubs are not typically that classy? The one in the movie had a VERY classy clientele. Even for Tampa, which I imagine is one of our classiest state’s classiest cities.
Logan: I have nothing to compare it to, really!
Adam: Have NEITHER of you been to a male strip club for ladies?????
Logan: I have seen male strippers in cages at gay clubs, but: that is not this.
Ester: I have seen lots of burlesque! Which is more empowering, supposedly.
Adam: What were you even doing at this movie!?!? Go out and yolo your lives!!!
Ester: I appreciate Tatum’s mad dance skillz more than I lusted over his pecs, or whatever exactly we’re supposed to be lusting after when we look at him (he’s a bit scary-looking to me: so beefy! so clearly not a jew!)
Logan: Haha, yes, Channing Tatum: Not a Jewish person. Also: There are no gay people in this movie whatsoever, which is weird. Except Olivia Munn!
Adam: Right! No gay men.
Ester: Apparently one of the “straight” dancers is gay in real life. Also, I think there was a scene — during the Kid’s initiation — when he was freaked out and feeling homophobic, though he didn’t explicitly say so. This was pure homo-social bonding, the way it was meant to be, before “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” got in the way of bros being bros.
Adam: But not overly homoerotic. not at any point, really. Part of me was like, COME ON! I almost felt like I went to a horror movie and no one died (I hate horror movies).
Ester: Except for that moment when Olivia Munn was hitting on Cody Horn “Ooh, is that a tattoo?” LOOK WITH YOUR EYES, NOT WITH YOUR HANDS, Olivia!
Ester: Actually the movie wasn’t particularly erotic at all. There was very little sex, considering. The first couple of minutes were as racy as it got, and that was just nudity, not sex. I mean, people have sex, but we spend much more time with the unfortunate aftereffects of indulgence (pigs eating vomit!) than with the fun stuff. Part of NOT romanticizing the lifestyle, I guess.
Logan: God that pig. Also sex was simulated sex in the context of the show. Which, does that actually happen? None of us know.
Ester: It was fun watching the expressions on the women’s faces when it was happening, that was for sure. They were surprised, delighted — you could see, in that moment, they felt so special. It was almost heartbreaking. The sorority girls, the ladies brought on stage at the club …
Adam: It was heartbreaking for me cause I’ll never be able to feel that kind of delight.
Ester: But, you know! That fantasy! These women were treated like they were sex objects themselves, no matter how they looked; tossed around like they were small, even if they weren’t. It made me wonder what these strippers were actually like in bed (disappointing, I’ll bet). Except Channing Tatum. He has those sensitive eyes.
Adam: FEMALE GAZE. “It made me wonder what these strippers were actually like in bed (disappointing, I’ll bet).” Your parenthetical asides can’t hide your female gaze.
Ester: Okay, “female gaze” totally sounds like a come on.
Adam: This move could have used more female gayz if you asked me YAY-YO
Ester: It needed more male gayz!
Logan: I thought the hottest scene was the opening, actually, when M2 is groping himself, basically.
Ester: He did look like he was enjoying himself. Total narcissist. And thanks to that scene, Ben, my husband-person, who came with me to see this movie, has started drawling questions at me like, “Can you touch this? Can you touch these?” That’s definitely been worth the $12 I paid for a ticket by itself.
Adam: What did you guys think of Cody Horn?
Logan: She reminded me of Kristin Stewart and I kind of liked her. But: I saw the movie with a girl who went to high school with her and she hated her, which: understandable! The girl was in a movie making out with Channing Tatum.
Adam: Definitely. And this is America, you barely need any reason to hate anyone you went to high school with. After the movie, my friend Olga said the truest and best thing about Cody Horn, which is “she has the most skeptical mouth of all time.”
Ester: I liked her. Her banter with Channing Tatum was a high point for me.
Logan: Do you think Magic Mike was a good guy?
Ester: A stripper with a heart of gold. I liked him more than his furniture, but at least he had drive and initiative! He was surrounded by slimeballs and get-rich-quick schemers and drug dealers; he was the only one (besides Cody Horn, really) trying to live the American dream on the up-and-up. But: This was not an inspiring picture of working class American masculinity, in general.
Adam: Ester, tell me what you think this movie had to say about class.
Ester: I think it was basically saying that working-class American men — those who once upon a time could have gotten solid blue collar jobs — have very few respectable options these days. It’s telling that the men during the shows were acting out blue-collar stereotypes and fantasies, doing dances as firemen, soldiers, policemen, etc, while in real life, they can’t get bank loans to start their own businesses, or worse, they deal drugs, get involved in organized crime.
Logan: Oooh interesting.
Ester: My favorite observation from the movie, which is emblematic of how smart and subtle Soderbergh is as a filmmaker, is: At the beginning, the Kid is all snotty about how he doesn’t want to wear a tie. (This is a sign that he is a douche, by the way, but we ignore it then because he seems kind of sweet). Then, at the end, when he has replaced Magic Mike as the lead in “It’s Raining Men,” he’s at the front of the pack, wearing a tie and almost nothing else — and he’s loving it. And he’s a complete douche! I mean, does anyone doubt that from here he has a glorious 10-year lifespan ahead of him that involves male prostitution, drug dealing, and eventually being found dead in a seedy motel room?
Adam: Now I see. Class not ass. But still some ass, though.
Ester: Compare him to one of Apatow’s man-children, or the main character in TED. Mike’s an actual adult with ambitions, savings, property; he actually wants a committed relationship … he’s in better shape, in lots of ways, than they are, but he has a much harder time than those guys, largely, because those guys tend to be white-collar and have college degrees. That’s why the whole tie thing is so ironic.
Logan: I did not do a deep-reading of this movie, but now I feel like I need to see again and again, for reasons other than M2 and Channing. Thank you for allowing me to crash your conversation.
Ester: Stop it, Logan! You’ve been an indispensable part of the three-way.
Adam: Logan, you’re Olivia Munn!!!!!!
Ester: Except that you haven’t turned out to be a bitch in the end.
Ester: (spoiler alert?)
Adam: Definitely not a spoiler alert.
Ester: Right?? Cuz it’s Olivia Munn! Allso, evil bisexuals in movies. It’s a thing!
Adam: There is one thing I want to spoil because I think the people need to know: The Rihanna song in the trailer is not in this movie EVEN ONCE.
Ester: Okay, Logan, here’s the fun part! What’d you pay to watch the movie and what did you think the experience the worth — all those ass-cheeks! All those abs! All that yellow!
Logan: I saw it in New Haven and paid $11. Plus $4 for a cherry slushie frostee freezee or whatever the hell. I’d say it was worth that plus more, even. Great.
Ester: Totally! With a class / masculinity component that my friends and I discussed in the park afterwards for a while. I paid $12 and felt quite satisfied. We haven’t even discussed that the script is really smart and well-constructed, but that was a big part of my enjoyment. You know, like reading Playboy for the articles.
Adam: I think I paid $13, which I think may be too much. Though: I saw it in a pretty full theater and some of the ladies there were super into it, and that made it really enjoyable. I also saw it with female friends, which I recommend.
Ester: So can we agree that $11-$12 would be a fair ticket price?
Logan: Adam, Adam. TWELVE.
Ester: Okay, $11 if you’re you’re a straight boy, $12 if you’re a straight girl. If you’re bi, you should get in for free. Fun movie. Smarter than expected. Enjoyable.
Logan: A fun romp.
Adam: A fun romp through the land of rumps.
Previously: How Much You Should Pay to See: Moonrise Kingdom
Adam Freelander will probably not watch it with her. Follow him @adamplease!