Heidi’s Review of Magic Mike


I saw Magic Mike Saturday, and this is my review.

I regret to inform you, I find myself overall disappointed. It is not that the movie was terrible or that it was all bad, though in some ways this makes my reaction worse. The best thing I can come up with was that I felt snookered, which I guess was their point. It isn’t that I wanted to see more eye candy than I saw. It’s that the kind of candy I got wasn’t what I was hoping we’d get in a movie that had been billed as, “Come see the cock.” Though once again, that was the movie’s message. We were supposed to come see the cock, but only a certain kind in a certain way, and we were to leave with the firm message that even this cock isn’t actually the good kind.

I know the life of stripping isn’t glamorous at all, that it’s hard and gritty and demeaning and has made every stripper I know twitch at memory. If that had been the point, I might have been okay with it too, but that wasn’t what the movie trailers sold. 

The real story is that between Mike and Brooke—it’s a romance, sort of, though mostly it’s Mike finding his way into the life he really wants. Stripping is something he does for money so he can do the thing he really wants: make custom furniture. They try to sell it as Brooke being the voice of reason, his call to growing up, but I don’t quite buy it. What Mike was really buying was the same fantasy as his customers: never get the payoff, get sold the glitz and glamor of sex without getting anything real. Get sold the veneer of success and freedom without having it at all. It isn’t real, and it won’t ever be.

There are about a billion flaws in that setup. First off, Mike totally could have saved up from his multiple jobs and gotten himself out, though he was stuck on a certain path. That part held true. He didn’t exactly fall into the lifestyle completely either. They kept saying that, but he held pretty true to himself most of the time, not getting himself in trouble, mostly being devil-may-care and impetuous. Which I guess for the producers is also Bad. I disagree of course, but I didn’t buy their lines no matter what. Mike was good at what he did wherever he did it, and I didn’t see that he had some kind of flaw keeping him back except that he was a little idealistic.

What I really hated was that Brooke was just a representation of another dream: respectability. She wasn’t a nurse, she was a medical assistant. It was made clear this was a less-than job, but it was okay because she had a nice house and a nice life, even if she did have cheap, knock-off furniture. I would have been fine with her being someone okay with where she was in life, making her own happiness. But all we ever got from her was judgment sprinkled in with some sage advice about finding your true self, though mostly it was “you’re going the wrong way.” She didn’t so much as date him, let alone touch him or kiss him, until he made it clear he was done stripping, and then she was happy to fuck him for seven hours until they went to have breakfast.

In case we missed the good girl/bad girl setup, Olivia Munn appeared as the polyamorous, bisexual, cheating academic bitch who left Mike in the cold when he needed her. It was possible to read that maybe Munn’s character was practical where Mike was sentimental, but this, like reading Brooke as anything but a stock reprimand, was bringing one’s own story to the table. Mostly this was a tale of caution mixed in with some growing-up for Mike. The growing up was fine. The caution made me pissed.

Maybe I made it up, but when I watched the trailer I saw an opportunity to see some of what we try to do here on Coffee and Porn on the big screen. It wasn’t about being a voyeur. It wasn’t about titilation. It was about the freedom to go, yeah, baby, you’re hot and feel normal and un-judged. It was about the thrill of going to a goddamned movie that might for once feel like the kind of sexuality I get behind: open, easy, happy, clever, unique. It was about wanting to be present when mainstream culture finally took a turn toward progression with its presentation of men as sexual objects.

None of these things happened. The bi/poly girl was a bitch. The ass-shots looked panicked-ly snuck in, and the (female, natch) tit shots were numerous, put in place it felt like to normalize our sexual experience. HERE LOOK THERE ARE TITS IN A SEXY FILM FEEL BETTER NOW. The single cock shot I saw was an out-of-focus shot of a penis in a pump, there entirely for comic effect. The dancing was sexy, but it was entirely Hollywood’s standard concept of what sexy men should be. There may have been a few moments of something more, something new, something genuine. Mostly, though, it was as a friend of a friend said on twitter. “This is more cock than you’ll see in Magic Mike:” and he attached a picture of a rooster.

My husband thinks I was a victim of my own idealism and wondered why I thought I’d get anything more from a Hollywood feature film. I suppose he’s right, but I’m still disappointed. Most of the people in my theater were too. They came for the cock and balls and the hot young ass. Old and young, though many, many blue-hairs, they came to see the sexy. They got angry at the cutaways. They were pissed when they didn’t even get to see Brooke and Mike make out in their seven-hour sex-a-thon. They got up from their seats looking like I felt, as if they had been made fools of and cheated out of their money.

I do think that was the point. We were supposed to Learn. We were supposed to be content with our teasing shots and swallow the reminder load of how sex and sexuality should be: monogamous, humble, and along the beaten path. Oh, and be straight, too. Not one of the strippers was gay, and the only gay rep (Munn) was Bad. Well, she was POLY. My god. This isn’t some hippie commie movie.

Give me a fucking break.

Before I wrote this review, I spent an hour uploading pics for the week on Coffee and Porn. I smiled over the picture of a young blond man eagerly swallowing down a monster cock, looking proud and sexy and free. I felt mushy over the trans pics, knowing they come from tumblrs of people transitioning and being brave enough to share their progress and their happiness at their milestones, loving their new bodies enough to post them all over the Internet. I had my thrills at the Girls Too pics, continuing to make my own foray into what free female sexuality means to me. I enjoyed a lot of cock and ass too as I made my decisions about what would go up this week and what would wait. I slid into my own happy place as I sorted through my source sites, pulling this file and rejecting that one. It was hours and hours of sexual liberation.

That’s what I thought I’d get out of Magic Mike. That’s what I assumed I’d get when they aimed a movie at gay men and straight women and lovers of free male form. I suppose I got some of it. I suppose I should have known that I wouldn’t get what I really wanted, that there was no way Hollywood would have let something like real male sexuality make it to the silver screen. And it wasn’t exactly an awful film. It was, really, like bad whiskey or a bad cigarette, or for a more local analogy, bad porn. It was fun, and it was somewhat off the beaten path. Mostly, though, it left a bad aftertaste and made me want to go and find the good stuff.

 

12 Comments on “Heidi’s Review of Magic Mike

  1. Great review. I admit that because it was a mainstream Hollywood movie, I expected exactly what we got. We unfortunately got all the cock that Hollywood is willing to indulge us with without dealing with the money loss of an NR or NC-17 rating. I WAS impressed and so happy to see so many women shamelessly ogling, hooting and hollering at the screen during this movie. They were there for the hotness and they openly enjoyed it without shame or remorse.

    That being said, I agree with you. I hated the overall message of “sex is only good if you are in a relationship with one person and oh that person better be the opposite sex.” They may not have said those words exactly but the message was loud and clear. I thought Olivia Dunn’s character was a great character and was super pissed that she instantly became the bad guy with no warning. And the romance? What romance? Seriously. All she did was bitch and complain and then all of a sudden she is willing to fuck him at the end of the movie? Whatever. I would have found the entire thing much more believeable if Mike had moved on to Miami or even joined another club in the end. Staying in Tampa for the girl did not fit in with the rest of the movie.

    The day we can get Tristan Taormino to direct or consult on a movie for the big screen is the day I will be sure I am going to see a film that embraces sexuality of all genders and orientations without pushing an old school conservative agenda of monogamy and sexual repression.

    • Yeah, I’d have liked to see the two of them not hook up but that he sorted himself out, that he’d had some alternative third track he’d been not taking through the movie that he took then.

      Well hell, let’s be honest. I wish there’d have been a cute cop or firefighter or barista (male, natch) who’d been trying to help him and instead of going to bitch queen, he’d gone to Cute Guy, seen the light, and lived a happy gay ever after. But that’s NEVER going to happen in this Hollywood.

  2. Hi Heidi! Thanks for the review. Now I think I will go see the movie with the talking teddie bear instead.

    Did you see the weekend news coverage of this movie? On CBS, I think. It showed lots of women lining up to see the movie, because Hollywood had finally made a movie recognizing women’s sexuality. That’s what the male reporter said. So, I guess the news was just helping feed us Hollywood’s line about what women’s sexuality should be.

    After reading your review, I’m just feeling “controlled.” Again.

    Thanks for sparing me the disappointment.

    • I missed that. Gah.

      Well, I know some people have enjoyed it, but it just depressed me. Maybe it’s a baby step.

  3. Very helpful review, thank you! I’ll be waiting for it to come out on netflix, no out of pocket expense required. ;P

    Fab photo at the end BTW! Made my day!

  4. Great review, pretty well what they throw at you from Hollywood. I love my foreign films. Danish, Scandanavian and Spanish, in particular, I get bang for my buck. Oh, that photo you posted above was some pretty fine magic, mmm, mmm. Screw Magic Mike, give me sandy tattoo man any day.

  5. I totally agree. I saw it last night and couldn’t believe how predictable and boring it was. Same old moralistic bullshit in which the stripper finds redemption via middle class values. It was so disappointing that even the dancing and stripping was ho-hum. This movie wanted to have its cake and eat it too — tease with some skin and sin and then bring home the message that, uh oh, sin and skin is Bad. So typical of America’s hypocritical sexual attitudes. Oh well…the popcorn was at least sinfully good.

  6. Pingback: Experimental Fiction/Essay: (NSFW) To Fuck or Just to be Roomies, That is the Question « Alchemy of the Word

  7. Pingback: To Fuck or Just to be Roomies, That is the Question | Alchemy of the Word

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