Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2012. Iron Horse Entertainment, Extension 765, St. Petersburg Clearwater Film Commission. Screenplay by Reid Carolin. Cinematography by Steven Soderbergh. Produced by Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum, Nick Wechsler. Music by Frankie Pine. Production Design by Howard Cummings. Costume Design by Christopher Peterson. Film Editing by Steven Soderbergh. Independent Spirit Awards 2012. National Society of Film Critics Awards 2012. New York Film Critics Awards 2012.
Channing Tatum plays a member of a male exotic dance revue who longs for something more: he takes the piles of cash that are stuffed into his underwear strap every night and is saving to become a real estate tycoon. He meets young, aimless Alex Pettyfer and decides to give the kid a chance in the club he dances in, working for their oily, charming boss Matthew McConaughey. Pettyfer is instantly a hit with the ladies (which is odd considering how much of the film he spends looking like he needs to wash his hair), and while Tatum starts charming Pettyfer’s adorable sister, the young whippersnapper begins to think of his job as a free ride: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll get out of hand while his mentor keeps hoping his sense of discipline will win out. Steven Soderbergh’s examination of the commodification of flesh is not an all-out exploitation of the men it examines, and in a way that’s a shame. It’s not a particularly shy movie, but it could do with some rebellious sexiness; the way the characters are constantly begging to be taken seriously despite what they do for a living makes them somewhat boring to watch, particularly considering that all the performances (including a very handsome and surprisingly non-charismatic Matt Bomer) pale in comparison to McConaughey’s hysterically wicked turn as the man who has, quite frankly, been in the business far too long. The rise and fall of both main characters leaves a lot to be desired, particularly as Tatum’s acting abilities come nowhere near his dancing talents (which are relegated to a few measly montage sequences). On the other hand, the revelation of flesh is far too tame to make it anything worth writing home about.