| June 29, 2012

I must warn you: This isn't your typical movie review column. My ratings system is simple: Is it worthy of a date night out at the movies? Blu-ray? Or is it just a bust?

LADIES and GENTLEMEN, may I have your attention please!  In one corner, we have "The Amazing Spider-Man," and in the other, "Magiiiiic Mike!"  As both films hit theaters in the next few days, which will win out in the head-to-head battle for your next date night out?  Let's look at the tale of the tape between these highly anticipated box-office contenders!

It's Magic … or is it?

If your idea of a good time is watching Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey and other sweaty men strip down to their skivvies, then this movie is for you … otherwise, avert your eyes!  

The film follows Jack-of-all-trades Mike (Channing Tatum). He’s an entrepreneur, furniture maker and construction worker by day, but at night he's Magic ... or so filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) would have you believe. Magic Mike, who is the hot-headliner at Club Xquisite, gives us an up-close look at the lifestyle of male strippers (along with his abs and other "assets"), but fails to really showcase anything more than the obvious. The truth surrounding the seedy world of male strippers is mostly what you'd expect it to be: The guys have money, women, wild parties and pants with … well, no backside to them!  

Mike leads an all-male revue displaying outrageous outfits and seductive dance moves that have women eager and willing to shell out single dollar bills. What's unfortunate is everything missing in between the strip-tastic shows! Sure, there are storylines surrounding Mike's bro-mance with best friend The Kid (Alex Pettyfer), his relationship with club owner Dallas (Mathew McConaughey), and his love life involving Joanna (Olivia Munn) and Brooke (Cody Horn), but none of them are really developed. All three fall far short of making you care if any of them work out or not.   

Tatum, also a producer on the film, was a male dancer himself in his youth. He clearly has the ripped and rock hard muscles for the role, and draws on his real-life experience and superior dance skills to put on quite the stage show. As for his acting chops, they’re on par with his past performances in "Dear John" and "Step Up."  

The other real headliner is Matthew McConaughey, one of Hollywood’s most sought-after stars. In a role many women have been dreaming about for years, he portrays dancer/club owner Dallas. McConaughey delivers some solid laughs and a sizzling dance routine that ladies will certainly love, all while showcasing his typical Texas drawl that America can't seem to get enough of.  

Overall, take this movie for what's it worth: something that starts out exciting for the first twenty minutes, gets tiring shortly thereafter, and at the end of the night leaves you wanting more and probably wasn't worth the money … you know, basically like your typical strip club experience!  While some will love this movie regardless (and probably wish it was in IMAX 3D), the quality of the story is akin to the Demi Moore film “Striptease,” which was booed off stage.

More average than amazing.

Mark Webb's (yes, his last name is Webb!) reboot of "The Amazing Spider-Man" brings us a new, edgier and EMO version of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), who is searching for answers to what really happened to his parents. Billed as “an untold story,” the script adds some new twists and turns, the most noticeable of which is Parker's relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), his original comic book love interest before the introduction of Mary Jane. The rest, though, remains true to the creepy crawler’s basic plot: A high school photographer is bit by genetic super spider, gains spider-like senses, witnesses a crime, decides not to stop that crime, comes to regret that decision after the crime’s perpetrator kills his uncle, makes himself a suit, and then swears revenge. Done and done.  

Speaking of the suit, spandex is out and a new synthetic rubber substance is in. It looks cool from afar, but Spidey starts to look like he's wrapped in a red rubber dodgeball up close — and you get extremely close thanks to the use of IMAX 3D. However, for those of you waiting to be blown away by the cool point-of-view scenes showcased in the trailer, don't hold your breath — yes, it feels like you're riding shotgun right next to the web slinger, but rarely do you feel like you're actually behind the mask. So for all of you big kids at heart longing for your chance to swing and sway between city skyscrapers, I'm sorry to tell you it ain't gonna happen!

The ensemble cast features big star power with Garfield and Stone alongside Martin Sheen (Uncle Ben), Sally Field (Aunt May), Dennis Leary (Captain Stacy) and Ryhs Ifans (Dr. Connors/The Lizard), but it may actually work against the film. In certain cases, their fame seems to outshine their acting, making it hard to become totally engrossed in their storylines: “Wait, did Aunt May just break into a commercial pitch about treatments for osteoporosis?  And why do I feel like Captain Stacy wants me to buy a Ford truck??” The real elephant in the room (or multiplex) is that this reboot is hitting theaters only five short years after the final installment of the Toby Maguire-led Spider-Man series. Comparisons are natural, and though Garfield does a decent job, I'd take Maguire and his cast over this one almost across the board, outside of perhaps Kirsten Dunst, who grew increasingly tough to bear as that series progressed.  

So in a movie marketplace increasingly dominated by comic book blockbusters, could "The Amazing-Spider-Man" be the first causality of superhero oversaturation?  America wanted "The Avengers" and showed it. People are pumped for "The Dark Knight Rises" and Batman’s final fight. But did we really need (or even want) another web-head adventure so soon?      

The Date Nighter Says:

So which movie should you head to with your date for July 4th?  It's a draw! Both movies packed some punches, but neither is a knockout.

Magic Mike: Don't do it. If you're set on seeing it, make it a ladies night out and leave your date at home. No man needs to be compared to Matthew McConaughey!

Spider-Man: Don't do it; my spidey sense says something is off. Wait to watch this one at home.

Who is The Date Nighter?
The date nighter brings a guys perspective on the weekend's hot tickets. Use his reviews to help with the date night movie compromise!