Alright, by now there can't possibly be anyone left who doesn't know why you'd want to see Magic Mike. It's been enthusiastically marketed as the movie to go see with a group of girlfriends-- one TV spot actually crows "You'll wish you were single!"-- and ogle all the male flesh on display, particularly the flesh from famous actors like Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello. The film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, is based on Tatum's actual experiences as a male stripper, but the rest of the guys are just actors, meaning they all had to learn to bump and grind before filming began.
And while the movie has a lot to offer beyond the stripping scenes-- it's a really good movie, I promise!-- the stripping is indeed pretty great, with fun choreography and elaborate costumes and some dance movies that might give you the vapors. But not all male strippers are not created equal, and over the course of the movie you get a clear sense of who would fit right in with the Cock Rockin' Kings of Tampa, and who ought to stick with acting. So, for your convenience, I've ranked the cast for their stripping skills. Keep it in mind while you see Magic Mike this weekend, and feel free to argue with me in the comments.
#7: Tarzan (Kevin Nash)
No offense to this veteran and his obviously admirable physique, but a career in pro wrestling doesn't exactly lend itself to the loose, lithe movements required by male strippers. Tarzan is in the back of every group number, and if you look closely, he's always barely moving his arms or turning his head while someone is practically doing backflips next to him. In his solo numbers, we see him lifting up women or (true to his name) swinging on a vine, but Soderbergh mercifully keeps them brief. But hey, it takes a lot of guts to be in a movie in a G-string, so kudos to Nash anyway.
#6: Adam "The Kid" (Alex Pettyfer)
When Dallas and Mike decide to let Adam work at the club, they both admit he "can't dance for shit" and share a laugh about it. Adam learns to use his hips a little better thanks to an intense one-on-one lesson from Dallas, but he never really exudes the kind of confidence or charisma that the rest of the guys do, and his dance moves remain only serviceable. And given that Adam is 19 years old and baby-faced, there's always something a little weird about seeing him shake it next to his more beefcakey colleagues.
#5: Tito (Adam Rodriguez)
Tito also gets limited to group numbers for a while, though not nearly as hidden as Tarzan, but halfway through the film he briefly takes center stage dressed up in a Navy uniform, and it's pretty damn striking. You get the feeling he'd be especially good at what the guys call "one-on-ones," a.k.a. lap dances, since he's got smooth moves and a face that says at all times "I am in total control." But he's also not nearly as much of a show pony as some of the other guys, which makes it hard to remember anything he did in particular once the movie is over.
#4 Dallas (Matthew McConaughey)
You have to wait until nearly the end of Magic Mike to see Dallas show his stuff-- he's the master of ceremonies, the head honcho, and he jokes early on that he's not going to get out there onstage. But eventually he succumbs to the call of the crowd, and-- well, let's be honest, he's not really a great dancer, and doesn't try to be. But the charm that Dallas uses to introduce each act throughout the film has the women going crazy over him anyway, and McConaughey has this way of barely moving his body that still looks like an elaborate striptease. What can we say-- the veteran's still got it.
#3: Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello)
I know, I know-- with a name like that, how can he not be #1? Manganiello is a giant, and even in the group numbers you can't help but watching him, wondering how a body that big can move so well. His appeal doesn't come so much in his dance moves-- he's fine, but not spectacular-- but in his crazy manliness, the muscles and the titular "big dick" (seen just in silhouette, don't worry) that speak entirely for themselves. At one point Dallas describes the work these guys do as the perfect fantasy for women who are married or in relationships, an opportunity to "stray" but still be faithful. Big Dick Richie is the kind of guy you might be terrified to actually have in your bedroom, but up on stage, with all those muscles lit up by the lights? He's right at home.
#2: Ken (Matt Bomer)
Tellingly, Ken's best dance number is as a Ken Doll, dressed up in a ridiculous Hawaiian shirt and emerging from a plastic box, his blue eyes big and wide and dead inside-- until he starts taking off his clothes, that is. Bomer has the kind of clear-skin, clean-cut look that almost makes him look unreal, which is why it's especially fun to watch him grind on women while also looking like he could've been your prom date. He's also probably the skinniest of the guys (except for Pettyfer) and has the best moves, shaking his hips from the moment he steps onstage and making it all look easy. He doesn't have any showstopper moves, exactly, but he doesn't need them-- he stands out even in the group numbers as the guy with the smoothest, most fluid dance moves.
#1 Magic Mike (Channing Tatum)
Is there any other choice? It's not just that Mike gets the most screen time, or the most individual dance numbers, though that doesn't hurt. It's that Channing Tatum is an incredible dancer, doing backflips off the stage and moving his pelvis at a rate that's almost too fast to see with the naked (ha!) eye. He's the superstar among the Cock Rocking Kings of Tampa for a reason, and he knows it, Dallas knows it, and most importantly, Steven Soderbergh knows it too. When he takes the stage you can only wish his dance numbers would last twice as long, and maybe even more amazingly, he doesn't even have to take his clothes off to be impressive. Sure, we can all be glad that Channing Tatum is now an actor and not only working as a male stripper. But damn if he doesn't look perfectly at home in that G-string.