• One of Magic Mike’s progenitors: Burt Reynolds in Ritchie’s Semi-Tough

In my short review of Magic Mike, I posited that Steven Soderbergh had taken a cue from the 1970s comedies like The Bad News Bears in the movie’s sweet-and-sour tone. And what do you know, in a recent interview with MSN Movies, Soderbergh cites Hal Ashby’s Shampoo and The Last Detail as influences. I haven’t revisited either film in years (I really should), but since seeing Magic Mike, I’ve been spending time with the work of Bad News Bears director Michael Ritchie. As quintessentially “New Hollywood” as Ashby’s, Ritchie’s 70s films balance writerly conceits (many of their conflicts are clearly metaphors for U.S. society on the whole) with naturalistic performances and photography. They also meander between satirical comedy and character drama—a narrative design that’s all but inconceivable in today’s formula-driven Hollywood.