Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey shine in title roles but let down by other weak performances
Those ubiquitous bus sides portray this journey into the world of male striptease as boisterous soft porn for the hen night market - and pretty much ensure via the crude joke warning ‘Contains images that will make your man look useless!’ that straight men will stay away in droves, unless they clock the name Soderbergh in the small print. That’s a shame, because this film, as well as being jolly good fun and warmly and wittily performed on the whole, is unusually insightful and smart about male friendship and male vulnerability.
Though tonally more akin to Soderbergh’s downbeat exploration of the sex market, The Girlfriend Experience, than to the bouncy, bawdy larks of The Full Monty, it nonetheless embraces pretty conventional Hollywood plot tropes - male friends divided by moral differences, glitzy hedonism with grisly consequences, a pure woman whose love must be earned. It finds its charm not so much in originality as in sly dialogue; cinematography as slinky and energetic as its dance routines; and two very effective lead turns.
Unfortunately, the dynamism and charisma of Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey is neatly counterbalanced by strangely lifeless performances by their co-stars, Alex Pettyfer and Cody Horn. Pettyfer’s a charmless lump of driftwood, and Horn as his winsome sister just seems out of her depth; neither seems up to the demands of Soderbergh’s improvisational approach, and scenes drag as a result. The film’s otherwise high degree of verve and wit goes a long way to compensate, but it’s a shame and a surprise that there’s such a glaring gap in the quality of the work onscreen.
General release from Wed 11 Jul.