As Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer and the other hunks took the stage in trench coats and fedoras with umbrellas in hand for the first dance number of the film, I couldn't even peel my eyes away from the screen long enough to sloppily scrawl in my notes: "This is the cinematic EVENT of the year." It's not. But given that Magic Mike could make me lose myself like that, even momentarily, proves that Steven Soderbergh has managed to do the impossible: He made cheesy male strippers flipping and flopping their banana hammocks around to the tune of "It's Raining Men" just as hot as it is funny.
And seriously, that is a feat. Men in thongs? Gross! Guys who shave their entire bodies? Ew. Male butts? Who cares about them? Well, thanks to Soderbergh, I do now. Watching Tatum dry hump the stage in fluid, controlled, rhythmic movements I couldn't help but wish he was doing exactly that to my vagina. It's this kind of objectification that really sells the gender role reversal that the film employs. (The male strippers worry about the calories in alcohol, they get used as booty calls by educated women, etc.)
It would probably be impossible for a film about male strippers to not be campy, and Magic Mike certainly is. But what sets it apart from something like Showgirls (other than not having a rape scene) is that it's very self-aware, which will help sell it to mainstream audiences, thanks in part to Matthew McConaughey's comedic performance—as the sleazy, pimp-y owner of the male revue—the perfection of which was only surpassed by his torso. (In the entire movie, he only wears a shirt once, and it's a crop top.)
The events in Magic Mike are based on the time that Tatum spent as a stripper in Tampa before he hit the big time as a model and actor. His input is undoubtedly what gave the script its authenticity—the dialogue felt real; the humor was natural; the excessive drug use seemed honest.
The film isn't just all pecs and dongs (although there is a very effective closeup of a penis in a pump), though. There's a dramatic arc that revolves around a drug deal, furniture making, and coming to terms with aging out of the profession (or, as it's put in Showgirls, "getting too old for that whore-y look") that only seems to serve the purpose of providing Channing Tatum to show off his acting chops with a crying scene. Unfortunately, none of it as interesting as watching half-naked men bond over learning choreographed routines. Luckily, there's plenty of the latter to go around.
Ultimately, just like with a stripper, Magic Mike is full of bullshit drama that you don't need in your life, but you'll have a lot of fun watching.