Helloooo abs! Pulling together all the muscle-bound actors not already in the new “Expendables” movie, director Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum (the later working from his own life experience) pay tribute to men in uniform, who then strip those uniforms off. Mike (Tatum) is a roofer by day, stripper by night, taking ne’er-do-well drifter Adam (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing, showing him the ropes of the dance club and, upon a twist of fate, getting him recruited into the squad of guys who dress up like firemen, cops, Army, Navy and let women salute in their own way before getting a lap dance.
It’s for this fantasy fulfillment that these guys escape the night with a waistband full of sweaty money. But Mike is unfulfilled and would like to start a hand-crafted furniture business. He’s also falling for Adam’s sister (Cody Horn), who’s wary of his sex- and drug-filled lifestyle. This is traditionally stylized, single-cam, story-less and straight-forward Soderbergh, no moralizing or scandalizing the industry, and while every cliché from ‘wanting to be seen as more than just a stripper’ to ‘one special girl’ to ‘drugs are bad’ is used here, it’s way more entertaining and accessible than expected.
[WATCH the trailer]
Even if you’re not into assless thongs and chaps, guys doing perfectly choreographed dance routines to songs like “It’s Raining Men” before stripping down, or spray tanning and penis enlargement, there’s a really funny flick in here centering on everything mentioned plus the buying of erotic clothing and Mathew McConaughey, playing the leather and cowboy hat-clad owner of the club with such infectious enthusiasm that everyone else pales in comparison.
But it also has personal touches. Tatum makes a charismatic turn here (plus he’s one hell of an impressive dancer) but it’s his work in the later half in which Mike confronts his lifestyle that is the best stuff of the actor’s career. He adds a deeper layer to a movie that is otherwise playfully entertaining.