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Weekend Forecast for June 29-July 1, 2012

By Reagen Sulewski

June 29, 2012

Is this technically an orgy?

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This weekend brings us one of the odder collections of summer movies in some time, an eclectic mix of ideas that probably shouldn't work but might just in spite of their strangeness. Not just that, but against all odds, they make this one of the best reviewed slates of movies this summer.

The real wild card in the bunch is Magic Mike, which arguably appeals to the narrowest demographic of any of the four, but also has the greatest breakout potential. From 25,000 feet, it's a fairly straightforward looking romantic comedy starring Channing Tatum. As we swoop in, however, we see – wait, directed by Steven Soderbergh and wait, again – male strippers? Taking a cue from Tatum's actual first career, what this movie actually is closer to is a Boogie Nights-ish expose of the male stripper world, starring a beefcake-heavy cast including Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey and Matt Bomer and which kind of comes down to “Yay, porn!”

This is going to be one of the more exclusively female (and, okay, gay male) audiences since Sex and the City 2, possibly outdoing even those interminable Nicholas Sparks adaptations, which Tatum also knows a thing or two about. The Vow was one of the bigger surprises of the year so far, opening to $41 million, and making Tatum a legitimate box office draw. Cannily, his acting abilities never seem to be tested much, and until that becomes a problem, it's probably best for him to stick with his strengths of taking his shirt off and looking dully into middle-distance.




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Soderbergh as director is kind of an interesting wrinkle to this film, although it probably doesn't make that much of a difference to the bottom line. He's spent the last few years flexing his muscles in basically every genre there is (expect a musical soon), although he's not completely unfamiliar with sex and movies, having started out with Sex, Lies and Videotape. His name adds a big of legitimacy to a film that isn't really looking for it.

Perhaps more important is that the film arrives at the peak of the revival of smut for women, as best seen by the inexplicable popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, the book series that makes Twilight look respectable. But still, while it couldn't possibly have been timed this way, Magic Mike likely plays perfectly to women who've decided they can be a bit “naughty” in public, if we're dialing our definition of the word down a long ways. It also helps that the film's gotten a bit of publicity from accusations that Tatum stole moves from some of his former co-workers, which is apparently a thing. I look for this to come in with around $36 million this weekend.

Another oddball film is Ted, Seth McFarlane's feature film directorial debut. Possibly the high-concept film to end all high-concept films, it stars Mark Wahlberg as a grown man who, when he was a child, wished his teddy bear was alive. Well, it came true, and the bear, named Ted (voiced by McFarlane), grew up with him and is now a teddy… man, for lack of a better term.


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