Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mysti reviews Brave and Magic Mike

Mysti Reviews Brave and Magic Mike
First of all, thank you very much for having me here, Ami! When Kate sent over some ideas for this guest post, I was happy to see “movie review” as one of the choices. Since I just finished up a month-long tour and spoke so much about writing stuff, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a couple of movies that I’ve seen this summer: Brave and Magic Mike.
Now, if you know anything about these two movies, you can probably guess these two films are nothing alike. And you’d be right, except for one thing—in both of them, I see a theme of breaking free and growing up. Let me elaborate.
The Scottish (and animated) star of Brave, young Merida, feels trapped at the mercy of her parents: King Fergus and Queen Elinor. They wish her to marry the highest-ranking boy from one of three allied clans. They are gracious enough to arrange a tournament of skill in which Merida gets to choose both the contest and the winner, who will be her new husband. 
This is where the movie took off in terms of breaking free for Merida. As many of you have probably seen in the previews, Merida wisely chooses archery as the competition.  She watches her three suitors shoot at the target, and one of them hits it dead on. Then, the impulsive teenager with wild, red hair decides to compete for her own hand. She sinks an arrow straight through the last suitor’s arrow, which nullifies his attempt. 
However, she’s still expected to choose a husband or risk war between her father’s clan and their allies. But, Merida’s a high-spirited teenager, so she runs away, stumbles upon an old witch, and has her conjure up a potion that can change her life. 
Disney handled the cover-up of this twist VERY well. I saw nothing in the previews before the movie released that hinted at what lay ahead for Merida and her family. And I won’t spoil it here, though post-release previews have a few scenes from those events. I’ll simply say that while I rooted for Merida from the start, I love that her breaking free ultimately led to an even stronger bond with her parents than she ever had before. 
My entire family (me, three kids, and a husband-kid) watched Brave with not even one bathroom break. And that’s a very rare thing in our household! I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.
Magic Mike, on the other hand…
I’d actually heard the title before we watched it, but had no idea what it was about. Hubby and I were trying to decide on a movie and he told me about this one. Critics on Flixter raved about it. I was actually leaning toward Spider-Man. So, let it be on the record that My Husband. Talked. Me. Into. It.
He was one of only two guys in the whole audience. 
Magic Mike is based on the starring actor, Channing Tatum’s, experience as a male stripper in Tampa, FL. If anyone is familiar with Channing Tatum, you know he’s one hunky dude. This guy can really perform, let me tell you. I mean, wow, he must have earned the big bucks back in his stripper days! Add Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, the strip-club owner, Joe Manganiello (‘Alcide’ of True Blood) as Big Dick Richie, and you’ve got a testosterone-pumped cast of dancing man meat. 
All the ladies, myself included, enjoyed that. Hubby, not so much, except for Joe Manganiello in a firefighter costume…but don’t tell him I told you.
The plot of the film had a lot of potential. Mike (Channing Tatum) takes a nineteen-year-old, ambitionless guy (‘Adam’, played by Alex Pettyfer) under his wing and mentors him to stardom at the strip club. In the meantime, he falls for Adam’s older sister, Brooke (played by Cody Horn). From the beginning, through the middle, we see Mike’s character emerging from shallow, womanizing money-hoarder to a man who wants more than a life of being dancing man meat. 
That was good—and that was the part of this movie, like Brave, that revealed a breaking free theme. From climax to the ending, however, the movie completely fizzled out for me. It just sort of…ended. I didn’t see a well-played-out struggle to break free and forge new bonds as in Brave. It’s like the screenplay writers got bored and had enough. Maybe the coffee ran out?
So, yes, I was disappointed that a movie that actually had a lot more potential than Showgirls ended up rather bland at the end. But, if you need a ladies’ night out and want a few margaritas later, grab your girlfriends and go see Magic Mike. Just leave the kids and hubby home, unless you like to watch your spouse squirm, then flee as soon as the credits roll.

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