Raise your hand if you’re having a better year than Channing Tatum.
The model turned actor scored big with the action comedy “21 Jump Street,” melted hearts with “The Vow” and proved he was more than his washboard abs in “Magic Mike.”
Heck, he even got an unexpected gift when his sequel to “G.I. Joe” got bumped to 2013.
The model-turned-actor will remember 2012 fondly, but it’s how he used his real-life experiences as a stripper that turned him from hunky actor to Serious Movie Star.
“Magic Mike,” out Oct. 23 on Blu-ray, is loosely based on the seedier side of Tatum’s professional resume. The actor, who co-produced the film, plays a wannabe entrepreneur whose only gig of consequence is stripping at a Florida nightclub which looks like it’s a better fit for Sin City.
Mike inadvertently changes the course of his life when he befriends Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a scruffy young man with an eager smile and zero direction. The two bond when Adam joins the club’s lineup of strippers, with Mike promising to watch out for him.
Mike’s good time existence is questioned when he meets Adam’s sister (Cody Horn), a serious medical student who has little time for stripping shenanigans or the more dangerous elements lurking around the club.
Director Steven Soderbergh (“Oceans 11”) relies too much on the admittedly well choreographed dance numbers. The first few sequences set the tone and establish just why handsome men would go to such lengths to tease perfect strangers. It’s erotic, forbidden and it pays rather well, and picking up women is so much easier once you’ve shown the ladies how you can move, bump and thrust.
The story, and it’s a good one, takes a back seat as the movie keeps trotting out new, more elaborate dance numbers. Why not spend more time in the dressing room, letting us see the men behind the shows? Better yet, keep the camera trained on Matthew McConaughey, the business tycoon whose capitalist thirst cannot be quenched?
Tatum, who began his career looking both stiff and uncomfortable in front of the camera, continues to defy first impressions. Watch him flirt with Adam’s sister so effortlessly, and you’ll forget their relationship will be critical to Mike’s future.
“Magic Mike” is clearly eye candy and a gift to ladies who have endured Bond Girls, stripper stories and other girl-glam movie moments. Soderbergh also transforms ordinary sequences in the film, like the strippers passing time on the beach, into exquisite vistas. The director uses a muted color palette at times, and the results are actually more vibrant than if he had shot with a standard, or even intensified film stock.
Soderbergh, who has threatened he will retire from directing films, hasn’t given us something harrowing like “Traffic” or culturally significant such as “Sex, Lies and Videotape” with “Magic Mike.” It’s still a well crafted story with a solid ensemble cast and a star oh, so clearly on the rise.
The Blu-ray extras include even more dance numbers (ladies … you’re welcome), along with a celebratory behind-the-scenes featurette.
Tatum told Soderbergh about his stripper past on the set of “Haywire” and the director instantly said, “that would make an amazing movie.”
Choreographer Alison Faulk promises every scene with Tatum on stage is … Tatum. The actor clearly had some skills before stepping onto the set. That wasn’t the same for his fellow “magicians.”
“None of them could really dance until Allison got a hold of them,” said costume designer Christopher Peterson.
Give that woman a raise.