Most critics find Steven Soderbergh's exotic dancer drama to be a feast for the senses
America's top critics are cat-calling and hollering along with "Magic Mike."
Steven Soderbergh's bump-and-grind drama stars Channing Tatum as a gifted exotic dancer and features a veritable feast of male flesh. Most reviewers found the film to be a beefcake-rich guilty pleasure, with "Magic Mike" scoring an 82 percent "fresh" rating on the critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
One of the few immune to "Magic Mike"s' charms was TheWrap's own Alonso Duralde, who branded it "lackluster" and "repetitive."
"Riddled with show-biz clichés, stick-figure studs and re-heated ideas, 'Magic Mike' thrusts its junk in your face despite having a very empty G-string," Duralde writes.
But what Duralde found derivative, The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle found fresh and exciting.
LaSalle praised Soderbergh's directing and the performances of Tatum and co-star Matthew McConaughey, labeling it one of the year's best films.
"If it falls short of greatness, it's not by much — and it could end up growing with the years," LaSalle writes.
Also finding the film to be greater than the sum of its jock straps was The New York Times' Manohla Dargis, who said it was another worthy experiment in genre-hopping from the ever-restless Soderbergh.
"Mike yearns to make his artisan furniture," Dargis writes. "The world, though, wants him to strip and shake his tail. That may not be the subtlest metaphor for the independent filmmaker struggling against the Hollywood machine, but like the rest of this movie, it works — beautifully."
Reaching for risqué comparisons, The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney found the stripper drama to be on the same level as 1997's critically heralded "Boogie Nights." He praised not only the performances of Tatum and company, but also the pulsing soundtrack and Soderbergh's stylish cinematography.
"Delivering what feels like a young director’s work and not that of a guy nudging 50, Steven Soderbergh taps into the jazzy erotic energy that put him on the map more than 20 years ago with 'Sex, Lies, and Videotape,'" Rooney writes.
But there were a few top critics in addition to Duralde who weren't buying what Tatum was strutting, among them The Los Angeles Times' resident sage Kenneth Turan, who griped that the film was all gloss and no heart.
"If filmmaker Soderbergh had paid as much attention to relationship dynamics as he does to dance number mechanics, this film would have gotten closer to living up to the magic in its name," Turan writes.
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