On the outside, Magic Mike comes across as a typical Hollywood blockbuster. It has the right premiere date (yea for summer!) and the star power is undeniable (hello, Channing Tatum’s abs). Before seeing Magic Mike, I expected a wildly entertaining film about men who strip for money. What I got instead was an honest portrayal of the sex industry. Don’t get me wrong, there are more than enough thongs, oily abs, and lap dances to keep it afloat and the audience cheering for more. But beneath the glamour and fame was the raw reality of working in a strip club. And as a viewer experiencing the world for the first time, I appreciated that sincerity the most.

Source: Warner Bros.

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The beginning was arguably the most fascinating and entertaining portion of the film. I leaned into my twin sister and whispered, “I’ve never seen this before.” Yes, this world was very, very new to me. And a sizable chunk of the viewing audience was probably sitting in the same boat. Wildly fun? Yes. Hot? Without a doubt. Would I see it again? Probably. And here’s why.

By day, Mike wants to build custom furniture, but by night, he’s the star of a male strip joint. After briefly meeting an emotionally lost 19-year-old at a construction gig, he takes the melancholy boy, appropriately called the Kid, under his wing and into the world of money, sex and freedom. The Kid is literally willing to do anything to find a purpose. And Alex Pettyfer’s depiction of him will remind you that the Kid is not new or foreign. We all probably could have been him or maybe even were him in our lifetime. Pettyfer branches from his usual teen heart throb roles (Beastly, I am Number Four) and perfects the art of being shy and slightly uncomfortable.

The dialogue shared between Mike, the Kid, and the Kid’s sister never felt trite or corny. In a setting that I’ve never known, I found familiarity in the Kid’s desperation to fit in and his sister’s over-protectiveness. In essence, Magic Mike feels real. It could have easily been campy, but Tatum subtly shows us the effects of fame and the disillusion of the American Dream with his inability to go after the furniture company in today’s economy.

Magic Mike is without a doubt my favorite Channing Tatum movie. I hadn’t quite been a fan before, but he won me over with this one. Also, Cody Horn, an understated actress, blew me away. The strong-willed girl held her own against a cast of A-list stars. In fact, she stole some scenes with her hard-edged stares and snappy comebacks. By the end, the movie leaves you thinking about fame and fortune and missed opportunities…and yes, the abs are still there.

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You will laugh. Your hands will fly to your mouth in shock. You might even look around the theater to see if it’s okay to keep watching. Lovely readers, you don’t need permission to see Magic Mike (unless you’re under 17), so prepare for your eyes to bulge and hold on to your popcorn. It’s going to be a wild, naked ride.

My Rating: A

-Becca Ritchie

Catch Mike’s review on Magic Mike

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