First thing's first: Magic Mike delivers on the eye candy. Club Xquisite the wildest male strip club in Tampa sports an ensemble of muscled men ready to flash their ridiculous moves in even more ridiculous dance numbers (this crew has never seen a pair of assless pants they didn't like). Bringing a few dollar bills to the movie is recommended — Magic Mike is shot up close and personal enough that flailing them about will come naturally.
But between the codpieces air humping and penis pumps Magic Mike tells a surprisingly relatable funny and poignant parable centered on a character all too familiar to anyone with an ounce of ambition. Mike (Channing Tatum) leads a triple life: By day he's a roof tiler; by night an exotic dancer; and in his dreams he's a furniture craftsman and entrepreneur. When Mike first crosses paths with Adam (Alex Pettyfer) his worries about the future are dispelled slipping right into mentor mode to show the 19-year-old the wonders of sex drugs and rock and roll. Adam's broke and without direction — the perfect state of being for a stripper-in-the-making. Mike's sales pitch is irresistible and when Adam unwillingly takes the stage for the first time he feels the rush of a dozen woman screaming groping and stuffing singles down his jock strap. There's no question: A stripper's life is a journey worth embarking on.
In his typical fashion director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic Erin Brockovich) defies conventions sticking with Mike's ups and downs rather than transforming Magic Mike into a Goodfellas-esque "newbie in over his head" story. Between playing protector to the mesmerized Adam and attempting to strike up an actual relationship with Adam's sister Brooke (Cody Horn) Mike finds himself for the first time looking inward. Does a job define a man? He's convinced it doesn't but as Adam loses himself to the profession becoming the Xquisite's cutthroat owner Dallas' (the wonderfully slimy Matthew McConaughey) right-hand man and parlaying the gig into more dangerous ventures Mike realizes breakdancing in thongs may be more poisonous to his dreams than he ever realized.
Exploitation Magic Mike is not. The film's dance sequences are sexy and sleek but only to clue the audience into the job's allure. Backstage is equally important; Soderbergh does an amazing job constructing the boy's club atmosphere that keeps Mike and Adam coming back. Lively characters like Ken (Matt Bomer) and Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello) say little but speak volumes in the background of every scene. They're palling around and when they finally do reach out to Adam to profess their friendship it makes perfect sense. For a guy without a family the dancers are a perfect replacement.
While the cast is stellar Tatum continues his streak of star-making performances in the role of Mike. Obviously the man can dance — and he blows any memories of Step Up into oblivion. Beyond that he's perfectly in tune with Soderbergh's naturalistic style cool on his feet with the comedy and devastatingly subtle in the drama. His rapport with Horn who is equally striking in her casual approach is sweet and real a constant reminder that even a guy who lap dances in a fireman costume for a living has feelings too. Soderbergh enhances each of his performers with spot on photography: His Tampa is gritty and yellow-tinged the interior of the club a safe haven from the blase nature of reality. Magic Mike carries a full package.
Magic Mike hits all the right notes of comedy and drama that's completely unexpected in the summer blockbuster surroundings. Come for the stripping stay for the high-caliber filmmaking. Magic Mike is one of the year's best.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Top Story: Jackson Skates Charges in L.A.
Pop star Michael Jackson will not be charged with molesting a Los Angeles boy in the 1980s because, after a two-month investigation, the police found no evidence of a crime, Reuters reports. The boy, now 18, allegedly recovered repressed memories of being abused by Jackson 10 years ago with the help of Beverly Hills psychiatrist Carole Lieberman. Lieberman filed a child abuse complaint against Jackson, 45, last year. "After an extensive investigation, which included hours of interviews with the person making the allegations, detectives concluded there was no evidence that any crime occurred," Los Angeles Police Lt. Art Miller said in a brief written statement. "No charges will be sought." The boy's name is being withheld, but it is known that this case is unrelated to the 10-count indictment Jackson currently faces in Santa Barbara. The singer is set to stand trial in September on charges of lewd acts on a minor as well as child abduction, extortion and false imprisonment.
Simpson Wants Payment for T-Shirt
In the video to her hit single "With You, " Jessica Simpson indeed looked "beautiful" with just a T-shirt on--but now she wants to get paid for wearing it. Reuters reports the pop singer has filed a $140,000 lawsuit against the auto racing company Motorock and 4 Dog Productions, claiming they reneged on a deal to pay her for promoting the Motorock logo on a T-shirt. The complaint, originally filed in federal court in April, also claims that Simpson agreed to sing at the Grand Prix auto race in Puerto Rico last October, but that 4 Dog Productions "unilaterally canceled" plans for her performance without the consent of Simpson or her agency.
Quaid To Get Hitched Again
Actor Dennis Quaid is engaged to marry Texas real estate agent Kimberley Buffington, his publicist told Reuters. The syndicated TV show Extra said the two met just over a year ago when the 50-year-old actor was playing with his band The Sharks in Austin, Texas. This is the third marriage for Quaid, including his much-publicized one to actress Meg Ryan. No date has been set for the wedding.
Family Ties Actor Arrested for DUI
Actor Brian Bonsall, best known as Andy Keaton on the '80s sitcom Family Ties, was arrested last Friday in Boulder, Colo., on suspicion of drunken driving, CNN.com reports. Bonsall, 22, was stopped by police who said they saw someone vomit out the passenger side window of his car. Asked how much he had to drink, the young actor responded, "Plenty," then failed a roadside test. Bonsall had a prior conviction for drunken driving; in 2001 his license was suspended, police told CNN.com.
Idol Finale Dominates Weekly Ratings
Fox conquered the prime-time ratings last week as 28.8 million viewers tuned in to see who would be crowned the new American Idol during the series finale. The Top 10 shows and their total viewership for the week of May 24-30, according to Nielsen Media Research, include: American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 28.8 million viewers; American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 25.1 million viewers; CSI: Miami, CBS, 21.3 million viewers; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 18.3 million viewers; Two and a Half Men, CBS, 18.2 million viewers; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 14.9 million viewers; Without a Trace, CBS, 12.5 million viewers; 24, Fox, 12.3 million viewers; Law & Order, NBC, 12.2 million viewers; and Still Standing, CBS, 12.1 million viewers.
Ch-Check Out Beatsie Boys on Amazon.com
Beastie Boys fans who pre-order the band's new album, To the 5 Boroughs, on Amazon.com are in for a special treat. CNN.com reports Amazon.com music editor Jason Verlinde recently conducted a 10-minute interview with the band in which they discuss the Sept. 11 attacks, the presidential race and their passion for submarine sandwiches. But the interview is only viewable to those who have placed a pre-order for the new album, which is due out June 15. Fans who pre-order To the 5 Boroughs, the Beastie Boys' first album since 1998's Hello Nasty, will also be given access to the music video to the new single, "Ch-Check It Out," and two previously unavailable live concert performances.
Martha Stewart's Childhood Home Could Be Yours
Martha Stewart's childhood home, a three-story Colonial in Nutley, N.J., just 12 miles from New York City, is for sale. According to the AP, the three-bedroom, 1,922-square-foot house, built in 1930, is going for $549,000 and is expected to sell quickly. Stewart's parents bought the house when the homemaking maven was 3 years old, and she lived there through high school. Stewart's mother sold it to the present owners in 1987. Amenities include mature fig trees planted by Martha Stewart and a holly bush she and her father pruned in the shape of a cone. Curiosity-seekers be forewarned: There will be no open houses, and showings will be offered to pre-qualified buyers only.
Role Call: Lohan Joins Fashionistas' Ranks
Mean Girls star Lindsay Lohan is in negotiations to star in Fashionistas, a feature set in the world of a glossy magazine, Reuters reports. Lohan would play a young fashion designer who seeks revenge on her demanding female editor. When her plan backfires, she must juggle being a lowly assistant by day and the secret "It" designer and toast of New York by night--all while falling in love with the city's hottest bachelor. The project is based on Lynn Messina's debut novel of the same name.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.
Former Al Gore running mate and outspoken Hollywood critic Sen. Joe Lieberman will arrive in California on Wednesday for a powwow with the movie industry's leading movers and shakers.
Following hot on the heels of the Connecticut senator will be colleagues Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and John Edwards (D-N.C.). Boxer recently gained a seat on the highly powerful Senate Commerce, Science and Transporation Committee, which currently has oversight of the entertainment industry.
Lieberman is a longtime critic of the way Hollywood portrays violence and what he says is the industry's lack of a meaningful rating system. Since losing his bid for the vice presidency, Lieberman has said that he intends to bring legislation that would give the Federal Trade Commission authority - albeit limited authority - to address the movie and video game industries on false advertising, Reuters reports. That legislation has yet to be introduced.
Lieberman did introduce, along with Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the "21st Century Media Responsibility Act of 1999." The main thrust of the bill was to enact a "uniform labeling system for all entertainment media violence" to cover motion pictures, TV programs, music and video games. The bill was read twice and referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where it remains, according to McCain's office.
The Motion Picture Association of America criticized the act in a written statement, saying any attempt by the federal government to define such terms as "intensity of violent content," "age appropriateness" and "context" would collapse in failure because those concepts are elusive.
Lieberman also was in the forefront of the V-chip movement, which supplied parents with news tools to screen out violent and offensive programs. This comes in the form of the V-chip blocking technology, which is now installed in all new televisions. He also has advocated efforts to promote more education programs for children on broadcast television; sponsoring legislation encouraging the industry to resurrect its longstanding code of conduct; and asking the Federal Communications Commission to determine whether broadcasters are meeting the "public interest" standard prescribed by law.
Lieberman and Gore were both criticized for accepting money from Hollywood's bigwigs while publicly decrying the lack of morals and standards by the entertainment industry.
The MPAA has arranged all the meetings, at the request of the respective senators.
The senators are setting the agenda, and that the location of the meetings could not be revealed, said Rich Taylor, the MPAA's head of communications.