Friday, June 29, 2012

"Magic Mike" Fun, "Ted" Not So Much

“Magic Mike” Raunchy Fun for Females
By Skip Sheffield

Two offbeat adult romantic comedies open this weekend. “Magic Mike” is aimed more specifically at the female audience.
The ladies turned out in force for a preview screening at AMC Aventura. They were whipped into a squealing, screaming frenzy by a fast-talking Miami radio personality. Frankly it was a little scary, but it set the tone for “Magic Mike,” a yarn about strutting male strippers in a tawdry Tampa “Club Xquisite.”
Channing Tatum stars as the title character. He also co-produced the film, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh.
You could say Tatum has an intimate knowledge of the subject matter, as he did some stripping before he turned to acting.
Tatum is still a better dancer (and stripper) than he is an actor, but that is perfectly fine for this story, written by Reid Carolin. While there are elements of a cautionary tale, most of this is played for laughs and bawdy physical fun.
Mike (Tatum) is the star of Club Xquisite, which is run by an ex-stripper named Dallas (a superbly chiseled Matthew McConaughey).
We see Mike in action, thrilling a girl who has just turned 21 and who just wants to have fun with her girlfriends.
Mike has a day job working construction. On the job he meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a 19-year-old guy he calls “The Kid.”
Mike sees potential in The Kid, and when a guy falls to show up for a show, he pushes Dallas to give Adam a chance. He turns out to be a natural.
Complications ensue when Mike falls for Adam’s protective older sister Brooke (Cody) and Adam becomes entangled with dope-dealing shady characters.
But “Magic Mike’ is not about the perils of stripping or drugs. It’s more about the joy of proudly strutting your stuff, with a side plot of accepting grown-up responsibility.  It’s not a movie I would want to see alone, but it is fun seeing women express their carnal fantasies like, um, men.

Three stars

“Ted” Very Raunchy; Not Much Fun for Anyone

Much less enjoyable is “Ted,” which is a tawdry tale about a 35-year-old man who has to choose between his best friend, a childhood Teddy bear, and a real-life woman.
“Ted” is directed and co-written by irreverent “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, who also voices the CG-animated Ted.
“Ted” is set specifically in Boston to take advantage of star Mark Wahlberg’s real-life background.
The story begins in 1985 with a Christmas wish by young John Bennett (Bretton Manley) that his beloved Teddy bear could to life. Thanks to the magic of computer animation Ted not only springs to life, he develops a randy personality of his own.
“Ted” is rated R. Much of the humor derives from the shock value of a foul-mouthed Teddy bear doing raunchy things. Ted is like a perennial adolescent, always on the make. Inexplicably women find this attractive.
John has a longtime girlfriend named Lori (Mila Kunis) who also inexplicably tolerates Ted as a rival for her affections. A crossroads is met when John and Lori come home to find Ted partying with four hookers. It’s not so much the hookers but the really gross thing one of them has done that disgusts Lori.
Understandably Lori is issues an ultimatum: the bear or me.
I don’t know what is so tragic about a man having to man up, but a number of Hollywood fantasies seem to be based on the same “dilemma.” Jason Segal had the same problem in “The Muppets,” but that was a kinder, gentler and more touching comedy. “Ted” is simply gross and not much fun.

Two stars

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