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Bang!

Director Steven Soderbergh checks off another box on his list of genre pics. This time, it's the showbiz story, featuring a minor star with bigger dreams (Channing Tatum), a young up-and-comer (Alex Pettyfer), a sleazy manager (Matthew McConaughey), the perils of the party life, and all the rest of it. A couple of twists may have made it seem worthwhile, or at least interesting: first, a measure of autobiography for former stripper Tatum, who manages the neat trick of summoning an easygoing and almost witty persona from within his gym-sculpted physique; second, the whoop-whoop hilarity of replacing cheesecake with beefcake. But despite (or perhaps because of) his past, Tatum doesn't sell the greased-up product half as well as the mesmerizing McConaughey. Cody Horn, alas, is overwhelmed by the thankless task of playing moral compass for a guy who's funding his dreams by donning a banana hammock and simulating sex onstage.

Reader rating: one star.

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