Every once in a while Steven Soderbergh likes to give the people what they want. Right now, that seems to be a stripping Channing Tatum. In Magic Mike, out June 29, Tatum plays the eponymous male stripper who’s rolling in $1 and $5 bills but who’s still looking for one thing. If you can’t guess what that one thing is, just listen for the opening chords of Rihanna’s great banger of last fall, “We Found Love.” From that point on, the trailer plays like a surprisingly earnest—and more successfully stylish, of course—all-Vinny episode of Entourage.
How would I feel about Magic Mike if it weren’t directed by Steven Soderbergh? I wouldn’t really be sure why I should care—I’m still looking for the Soderberghian twist in this one. (When love interest Olivia Munn says, “I was hoping this was all a joke,” I sympathized.) That said, the director’s imprimatur means that, if nothing else, the whole stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold love story will play out with slick, impeccable style and cinematography (also on display in this trailer). I’ve never met a big-budget Soderbergh flick that I couldn’t pick up at any point and watch.
But wasn’t this supposed to be a comedy? I had been hoping that Magic Mike was Soderbergh’s Boogie Nights and that, just maybe, Channing Tatum was the next Mark Wahlberg (an actor that New York Times Magazine editor Adam Sternbergh recently nominated, somewhat plausibly, for “Greatest Actor of His Generation”). But while Wahlberg is a sort of genius at playing dumb, Magic Mike is no Dirk Diggler. In the hilarious 21 Jump Street Tatum proved he was endearingly game for just about anything, but here he doesn’t seem to stretch beyond the solid but numb-faced performance he usually turns in (as, for example, in Soderbergh’s disappointing Haywire).
On its own terms, at least as they are presented in this trailer, it looks like Magic Mike will hit its target. Tatum, a former stripper himself—and the star of the original Step Up—gets to show off his well-honed moves. Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey, who has spent much of the last decade as a sort of stripper disguised as an actor, shows off his well-chiseled abs. It occurs to me that I may not be the target audience for this Soderbergh outing.