For a star who was once arrested for naked bongo-playing, a bongo-playing male stripper might seem a role to avoid. Yet for Matthew McConaughey, signing up to play strip-club owner Dallas Rising, self-crowned overlord of “the cock-rocking kings of Tampa”, could be the best decision he’s made in years.
At first glance,
is all about Channing Tatum. He’s playing the title role, it’s his youth the film is (loosely) based on and it’s him who’s front and centre during its multiple pec-popping dance routines.
The revelation, though, is undoubtedly McConaughey. The man has been on quite a roll of late, with
and the Cannes-showcased
Yet his latest incarnation is in another league: a charismatic, conniving and seductive alpha male whose words of wisdom (“The moon is just a chip shot away!”) and rallying cries (“Who’s got the cock? You do, they don’t!”) could do for his standing what
’s Frank T.J. Mackey did for the Cruiser’s.
The P.T. Anderson comparison has traction, Steven Soderbergh having seemingly scoured
for tips on how to present his movie’s gaudy theatrics and ’70s vibe.
It’s there too in the later scenes of coke-snorting abandon, the flame to which Alex Pettyfer’s gauche young moth – plucked off Tatum’s construction crew to plug a hole in McConaughey’s line-up – is inexorably drawn.
The British actor’s speedy progression from naïf to stud to addict is the least plausible aspect in a film somewhat hobbled by its telescoped, single-summer time frame. Yet he still convinces as an opportunistic chancer in a performance that goes some way to atoning for the aptly titled
Tatum, of course, has his own baggage:
, though, is more on a measure with
A Guide To Recognising Your Saints
: raw, edgy tales of young men struggling to find a place to belong in America’s socalled classless society.
Tatum’s Mike is a Del-Boy in denial: a ducker and diver whose businesses (‘Mike’s Mobile Detailing’, ‘Mike’s Custom Furniture Concepts’) are the fig-leaf to the reality that his true talent lies in ripping his clothes off to music.
For all its social insightfulness, this isn’t an indie movie in the minor-key, inward-looking sense; Soderbergh’s out to give audiences a good time, and he succeeds. Its trajectory may be predictable, but that doesn’t stop
being the best movie about dudes disrobing since