Great Debate: Will Magic Mike Give Audiences What They Want?
"It's not what you're expecting."
That was the warning coming from critics the minute the embargo lifted on Magic Mike, the Steven Soderbergh film whose trailers have promised glittery, pop-fueled male strip shows, the movie version of a bachelorette party. Even as the movie has been getting rave reviews, some critics seem to wonder if Magic Mike being a more dramatic, low-key movie than expected might hurt it, and if the female-driven audiences expected to show up this weekend will wind up liking what they see.
Katey and Kristy were both among those women excited to see Magic Mike, and while Katey loved it, Kristy didn't, and she thinks audience won't go for it either. So, of course, we decided to Great Debate about it, and wonder out loud if when audiences go see Magic Mike this weekend, they'll like what they get. Take a look at the debate below, and read carefully: the fate of a sparkly G-string depends on it.
KATEY: Alright, so having both written my review and read yours, it seems we both agree that Magic Mike isn't quite the campy, glitzy movie the trailers are pushing hard. But the difference between us seems to be that I loved what I saw, and you were way more thrown by the change.
KRISTY: I admit I was thrown, but moreover I was bored. Still, I think it's a radical enough shift from how the trailers and TV ads are selling it that I won't be alone in my disappointment.
KATEY: Yeah, I'm really curious about how it's going to shake out. It seems like it could go one of two ways. A) People come for the stripping, get enough of it early on to be engaged, and totally go along with where the story takes them from there (the amazing screen presence of Channing Tatum doesn't hurt here). Or B) They feel like it's a bait-and-switch, walk out fuming, and a terrible CinemaScore tells the whole story.
KRISTY: I wager it will be the latter. Tatum is terrific--we both agree on that--but I think this is going to be like people lining up to see Drive and being enraged its not the Fast Five-like movie the trailers implied.
KATEY: That's a neat comparison, but I don't think entirely accurate-- Magic Mike does have really, really fun stripping scenes, and it's really funny at times, especially in the beginning. I think a movie needs to hook you in at the beginning and then you'll agree to go along with it, and for me, Magic Mike does that.
KRISTY: I see your point, but feel the shift in tone from what the trailers promise, which is essentially spirited rom-com/bromance, is not what Magic Mike delivers. And the stripping scenes--while fun and dynamic--are few and far between because of the painfully clunky romance between Tatum and the unwatchable Cody Horn. It's miles away from the kind of celebrity-stuffed thrills of Ocean's Eleven,but that's how it's being sold.
KATEY: Oh, it's no Ocean's Eleven for sure-- and I was also really down on Cody Horn, though I don't think she's a movie-ruiner. But I think I just want to be optimistic about audiences in the case of Magic Mike. It's selling tickets like crazy, and when people get together in a group and see a movie as an event, they WANT to like it. I think people are going to go in in the right, open-minded mood, by sheer fact of being ready to see some stripping. People put up with the awful writing of 50 Shades of Grey for all the S&M sexy stuff-- why not put up with low-key character drama to see some stripping?
KRISTY: But that's the thing--it's the sex appeal pulling audiences in. I think when they discover what a slow-paced drama it is, many will be disappointed. Tatum and Matthew McConaughey offer mesmerizing and fun performances, but the movie overall is not a fun cinematic experiences. That's reserved solely for the stage scenes.
KATEY: I know that after Brave, we probably should have learned that people don't like being surprised. But I think that even people who only want to see this for the stripping can appreciate the drama. Like, I plan to tell my mom and sister to see this, even though I don't think they would seek out a low-key Soderbergh movie otherwise. It's a way of getting people into theaters to see something unusual, and on that level, I think WB's marketing has been brilliant.
KRISTY: I agree with you on the principle of giving people something more substantial with their spectacle, but the story of Magic Mike didn't work for me. Mainly because I felt like Horn and Alex Pettyfer were deadweight, and the plot points were clunky and sometimes confusing. But I actually warned my mother that is was not what she and her girlfriends were expecting, and advised her if they wanted a fun night at the movies, to look elsewhere.
KATEY: Now I really hope my mom does go and proves you wrong! Do I win some money-- or maybe a glittery G-string?-- if I'm right and it winds up being a hit?
KRISTY: It seems on track to have a strong opening weekend, but yes, if it's a hit with audiences, you do deserve at the very least a glittery G-string.
KATEY: OK, one more thing-- moms aside, would you tell anyone to see Magic Mike? Or do you think the movie is flawed enough that everyone should avoid it?
KRISTY: I think there is definitely an audience for it. I just don't think it's the broad audience the marketing is gunning for. If you like Soderbergh's more reserved works, then this might be your speed. Ironically, I think the friends of mine who'd like Magic Mike are the very ones the marketing campaign has scared away.
KATEY: You mean dudes?
KRISTY: I mean people who are drawn to character study dramas.
KATEY: But, also-- dudes. Specifically dudes slightly afraid of G-strings.
KRISTY: That too. Though dudes may not be anymore on board with a Tatum drama. It's a very specific kind of dude who'd be enthralled by Magic Mike. The kind who likes movies that really take their time, I guess.
KATEY: Again, I hope you're wrong-- I honestly think anyone can enjoy Magic Mike, and I hope the broader marketing makes for a huge success. After all, Contagion wasn't your typical outbreak drama, and it did pretty well last fall.
KRISTY: I'd be happy if it did well, because I like Tatum and McConaughey, and would like to see them both thrive from it. But that's about it.
KATEY: Well, I guess we can both cross our fingers for this weekend then-- and I'll look forward to that G-string.
KRISTY:Me and my big mouth.
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