Smile Politely

Coulter takes on Magic Mike

I figure we might as well begin this column with a disclaimer. I really hate movie reviews, particularly if I haven’t seen the movie. They really just end up lessening the movie for me, at least a little bit. I know everyone in these parts thinks Roger Ebert is fantastic, but honestly he does nothing but give me a pain in the ass. Having said that, of course, I’m going to give it a try, somewhat terribly. At least I probably won’t ruin it for you like a lot of other people do.


This past Friday night I did something I rarely do and that’s go to a movie on its opening night in town. The movie was Magic Mike. Okay, first of all, I really did want to see this movie, just maybe not this soon. Second of all, I went on opening night because it’s nice to make the wife happy most of the time and she was pretty juiced about seeing it. Had it been a run of the mill sort of movie about male strippers, I probably would have pulled the “I don’t want to see a bunch of dudes dancing around, you know, because I’m not gay and shit” card, but this was different for one reason and that reason is Steven Soderbergh.

He’s always been one of my favorite directors, but lately he really seems to be hitting his stride and he is really making me hope all that retirement talk is just that, talk. The Informant, Contagion, and Haywire are just really good movies. Epic? Probably not, but it’s nice to see a director at the top of his craft.

The sold-out crowd on opening night was pretty much what you’d expect, a bunch of screaming chicks that probably did one too many shots of Apple Pucker right before they headed off to the theater. There was a general buzz that gave me an unsettled feeling and I wouldn’t have been all that surprised to see a bunch of bras and panties get thrown at the screen. If I’d been a really good-looking guy with six-pack abs I might have even feared for my purity.

This mood continued for the first few minutes of the movie. Apparently it’s very easy for women to whoop and holler and make lewd comments when the lights are down. At least they wait for darkness. Most fellas are happy to do it in the daylight for all to see. It was getting pretty loud during the first strip number and I thought I might have gotten more than I bargained for. Something happened though and it was fantastic. The film changed a little and it actually became a story. Before I knew it, the theater was quiet for the rest of the running time.

It was the old bait and switch. A lot of the patrons thought they were just going to see a group of oily men dance and they somehow got sucked into a nice little story that could have went south several times but always managed to not become ridiculous. The acting was stunningly good also. This is probably the best role Matthew McConaughey has had since Dazed and Confused. I guess it’s nice to set the bar low sometimes. Hell, even Channing Tatum was good, really good, like better than I ever expected him to be good. He was so good it was almost disappointing because I couldn’t mock him for the rest of the night as I had planned.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I sat next to a dude who was also with his best girl. We both snickered before the movie began, mostly just to comfort each other in case things got creepier than we anticipated. I have to tell you, we were the most polite sharers of an armrest you have ever seen. When the fellas were dancing on the screen both of us would be sure to lean in the opposite direction just to make it clear neither of us were turned on in any way and that neither of us would do any “one-armed downhill skier” during the film.

Is this a movie for you? It is, if you like good movies. Hell, I even forgot it was a stripper movie once it got going. If you’re a dude asking a chick out, I should give you a little warning though. I’m sure it seems like this would be a perfect movie because she’ll be all turned on after seeing a bunch of men dancing around in jock straps. The flaw in this logic is that these aren’t really ordinary men dancing around. These are men in really good shape dancing around. Trust me, if you take your shirt off in front of her a week after this movie, all she’s gonna see is the Pillsbury freaking Doughboy. I almost had a compulsion to begin doing sit-ups by the time the third act started.

Still, it’s another really good movie for Soderbergh. Everything is good to almost great — the actors, the camera work, the screenplay, everything. What holds it together though is the director. He just knows what he wants in a movie and he understands what it should be, rather than what people want it to be.


A buddy who I hadn’t seen in awhile, let’s call him Joe, told me about a little website called and it’s really pretty sweet. It seems like it should probably be illegal, but whatever. This guy in Athens, GA, tapes a crap ton of shows down there and then puts them online where people can listen to them. There are a lot of bands that I enjoy on the site, Drive By Truckers, Dinosaur Jr., Star Room Boys, Sonic Youth, and a bunch of other cool stuff, even some videos here and there. It’s totally worth spending 20 or 30 hours on, especially if you’re at work.

If you wanna rock with me in a completely un-Michael Jackson kind of way, come by the HighDive on Saturday to see Dibiase. They are some swell gentlemen and they get better every time I see them. You can also see Thundertruck, whom I believe may have a special guest. If that’s not enough, you can even see the wonderful Alpha Mile. They sound a lot like Little River Band to me, but feel free to come to your own conclusions.

Buona Sera, Senorina, kiss me goodnight.

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