Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Magic Mike’: ‘Striptease’ Without The Guilty Conscience
It’s been too long since we’ve had a major studio film about stripping. 16 years in fact, since Demi Moore swung her buff physique around a stripper pole for Striptease. Steven Soderbergh has remedied the situation with his next film Magic Mike, starring Channing Tatum, which opens June 29. Based on the trailer, it looks like it bears some similarities to the previous film. Mathew McConaughey‘s character even seems a little reminiscent of Burt Reynolds‘ in Striptease. Although, let’s hope McConaughey doesn’t have a scene where he walks around covered in vaseline, wearing cowboy boots. Besides the obvious difference in gender, the resemblance the two films have end with the main character’s very different attitudes about stripping. In his negative review for Striptease, Roger Ebert wrote about Moore’s character:
The woman is brave, heroic and stacked, but she’s not funny. The movie’s fatal flaw is to treat her like a pluck Sally Field heroine. That throws a wet blanket over the rest of the party.
Ebert was right. Moore’s character’s humorlessness was all wrong for a would-be madcap comedy about a stripper with a heart of gold saving her daughter from an out of control ex-husband. In the trailer, the voice over intones:
Erin Grant is desperate and desperate times call for desperate measures.
That humorlessness is why another film about female strippers, Showgirls, is now considered a camp classic and Striptease is mostly forgotten. For Moore’s character, stripping is a job that she can barely tolerate. At one point in a film she tells her boss at the strip club:
No chance that I’m going to roll around naked in cream corn with a bunch of drunken yahoo’s trying to stick nibblets up my hooha.
In comparison, in the trailer for Magic Mike, when Channing Tatum’s character is asked, “Why stripping?” he answers:
Why is easy: women, money and a good time.
When Striptease was released in the summer of 1996, it faltered at the domestic box office (although it did gross over $100 million worldwide), mainly because of its bait and switch advertising campaign. The marketing courted a male audience that wanted to see Demi Moore’s naked breasts and instead, delivered the equivalent of a woman offering up the headache excuse to avoid having sex. Magic Mike doesn’t appear to have the guilty conscience, so it has a chance to be a girls night out movie for the audience that showed up in force to make Bridesmaids a surprise box office blockbuster last year. And the fact that it could also turn out to be a gay guy’s night out movie goes without saying. It doesn’t look like a camp classic like Showgirls, but by switching out Moore´s mopey mom with a happy-go-lucky beefcake, Mike, at the very least, has the self-awareness and a sense of fun that Striptease so obviously lacked. Posted below is the one redeeming scene in Striptease that rises above most of the film’s low energy wrong-headedness, in which Moore dances to Annie Lennox‘s song “Cold.” Though the scene works on its own as a hypnotic peep show, it also demonstrates the movie´s overall humorless tone.