Monthly Movie: Magic Mike

As I’m an avid movie watcher, and I did start my writing career with movie reviews, I’ve decided to host a monthly, movie inspired post. This isn’t your ordinary movie review. I’ll be looking at film scripts and dissecting them from a writer’s point of view. What did and didn’t work in the finished product.

The mechanics that will be evaluated include: Dialogue, Characterization, and Plot. This isn’t an exact science and it’s only one person’s opinion.

Magic Mike (2012)

110 min Comedy &#124 Drama
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Screenplay: Reid Carolin
Starring: Channing Tatum as Magic Mike, Alex Pettyfer as Adam, Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, Olivia Munn as Joanna, Cody Horn as Brooke
A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money.

Yes. I did go see this movie. I accompanied some lovely women and we acted like silly school girls and the overall experience was FUN!

That being said, let’s get down to business. Did the male form in all its spectacular glory hide a bad script or enhance it?


The first question to ask: Was the plot inventive and unpredictable or boring and weak?

Hmmm… the premise was bold and inventive. It’s not everyday you see a film with male strippers as the centerpiece. Men have been ogling women’s bodies for centuries; women have finally burst through that veil and started looking at men as purely sexual objects.

Was the plot unpredictable? No. Nothing happened during the course of the story that could be called unexpected. It is about excess and once you open that door, one can expect anything.

I wouldn’t call it boring, but the pacing was slow, which I consider a weakness.


Next we’ll talk about characterization. Was there a clear protagonist with a dilemma? Was there a clear antagonist? Are the characters well developed or are they one-dimensional or stereotypical?

Mike (Channing Tatum) was the protagonist, but at times that fact was lost. Adam (Alex Pettyfer) could be described as a catalyst for Mike’s growth as a man. While 19 year-old Adam is delving into the excesses of money and women, 30 year-old Mike is trying to do something else with his life. It’s difficult to break away from the stripper lifestyle.

There are no clear antagonists. Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) creates tension and seems to be the reason Mike doesn’t move on to other things, but that relationship isn’t explored nearly enough. Drug dealers are a threat, but we only see a couple of the thugs sent to collect money.

Most of the other characters are one-dimensional. All we see of them is the drinking, pill-popping, pot-smoking salesmen of sex.

Joann (Olivia Munn) has a bit of dimension to her, but again it is unexplored. Brooke (Cody Horn) is really only there to hold the mirror for Mike.

Other thoughts

It is hinted at several times that Mike has other businesses. He works at construction and supposedly an auto detailing business. We see him on the construction site once, where he meets Adam. For the rest of the film, it’s all about the stripping.

Adam gets into some real trouble but doesn’t have to face the consequences. Had the writers explored this further, more tension could have been created. There is no real growth to Adam. He goes from a spoiled boy with an attitude to a spoiled boyish stripper with money, women and an attitude.

In closing I’ll say, I think the script is a mess. It had potential, but the film makers chose to let the strip club scenes dominate the film. Had they developed the characters a bit more and explored the reasons for their choices it could have been a great movie. While it’s good for a diversion, it disappointed me as a writer.