Jumping form the small screen to the big screen has been the ultimate goal of TV actors for years. This was especially true in the early years of television. Need I present as examples Clint Eastwood of the Rawhide TV series or, for that matter, George Clooney of ER fame? I mention bit of history in regards to the newly released movie “Magic Mike.”
Truly this film is a Channing Tatum vehicle exposing a lot more than his raw talent. However it also provided an opportunity for a lead in the USA Network’s summer hit series White Collar to jump onto the big screen. And joining him in that leap was one of CSI Miami’s crime solvers as well. Unfortunately the exposure received, besides that of showing their wares and smiles, was rather limited. In fact there was virtually no opportunity to demonstrate their acting credentials other than a few pelvic moves on and off the stage of the club where they served as backups to Magic Mike in a male stripper review act for a packed house of screaming women placing money in the usual places below the navel and tail bone.
I must say that my wife and I were looking forward to seeing our favorite summer show character on the big screen in a vastly different role. How would he drop that suave Cary Grant persona and put on…wait, make that “take off” as that would be a better descriptive term for his shedding of that “It Takes a Thief” type of role which Matt Bomer as Neil Caffrey does so well.
Then there was Adam Rodriquez of CSI Miami, the hunky crime fighter with a brain and often love interest of the former West Wing sole Republican, Emily Procter also a CSI Miami forensic scientist. With his show being cancelled, I understood why I was seeing him pop up a couple of TV series spots. So the jump to the movies would be a natural. He wanted to work and show off his talents and draw attention to his box office appeal. Too bad that he would have a role which did nothing to spotlight his talent other than the shimmering patriotic jock strap he wore.
And so I am sad to say that the meeting of White Collar, CSI Miami and Magic Mike was not a magical event. It did not take two these two TV series actors to another level of career recognition though both have that smile, visual attractiveness and even rhythm which when added to acting abilities, not seen in this film, could expand their acting horizons significantly.
Anyone who saw Matt Bomer in the “GLEE” episode or performing on the Kennedy Honors tribute show would know what I am talking about in regards to acting and rhythm. It would not be evident in what was seen in this film.
This leaves two aspects to address. One is that of the audience composed of 99% women. Some of them were talking about the sexy sensational novel sweeping the female readers of the world and which has been picked up by Universal Studios for $5 million. I think
These types were expecting even more graphic scenes and more of Channing and company’s exposure. Now don’t get me wrong, most of the audience oohed, aahed and gasped at many of the sequences in which the hunks did their performance thing on the stage of the Xquiste Male Review Club set in Tampa, Florida. Those who came to see hunks gyrate and grab their junk were not disappointed. Those who expected a compelling story behind those strip scenes had to wait until the last ten or fifteen minutes of the film. This part of the audience was very disappointed with the plot which was disjointed, often slow and lacking conviction, passion, redemption and a feel of love in friendship among guys and that between a man and a woman.
Even though Channing worked hard to bring out some passion and emotion from his sidekick called “The Kid” (Alex Pettyfer) whom he had taken under his wing to teach him the tricks of the trade and with his love interest (the sister of the Kid). He could only connect with the “Kid” character. That left the audience numb with disbelief that it never grew to a loyal and committed level. But then that may be too much to expect between two guy strippers. Or perhaps it was intentional to avoid any kind of gay inference. But if either had taken place it would have been a heck of a lot better to have that than the cardboard relationship which was portrayed. And that also could be said in spades between Magic Mike and the Kid’s sister portrayed by Cody Horn.
Having said this, I must add that Alex did have a couple of notable scenes which showed his character’s development from an innocent 19 year old to a booze guzzling, dope using and dope peddling stripper destroyed by the lure of easy money, fame and sex.
It was, however, left to Matthew McConaughey to consistently present his character with a depth to make you laugh, hate and be appalled with his character as the owner of the strip club.
If I were back in the classroom I would assign a grade of C- for this film, Magic Mike. Now I don’t know if this film is Channing Tatum’s first attempt at producing his own film but he should not stop doing so. There are some of us who have been trying to get their screenplay made into a film for years. He’s a young guy with a lot of talent and appeal who can easily bring the Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriquez TV actor types a real chance to act on the big screen. In the mean time you may enjoy Matt’s performance as Neil Caffrey in their new season of White Collar starting on July 10th.
(Arthur Cola is the author of novels and screenplays based of each of them. They are available at amazon.com/Kindle and www.feedaread.com. He is currently working with Producer/Director Ron Kolman on the film project “Ring of the Magi.”)