Method Man Presents... The Strip Game
Label: Lion's Gate Home Entertainment
Author: Tom Doggett
Is this an urban “Girls Gone Wild” with Method Man hosting instead of the guy from the new “Man Show?” Is it a controversial exposé on the sordid world of strip clubs? Is it just an excuse to get some of your favorite artists such as Redman, Scarface, and Ghostface Killah on screen to talk about strippers? After watching this DVD, I’m still not quite sure, and the film appears to be content touching on all of these areas without developing a narrative point of view. There are elements of each throughout, but the ultimate effect is that of an unassuming film trying to show all sides of the situation, with a special emphasis on the lives of the strippers. Of course, there is more than enough footage of the strippers in action as well.
The documentary travels first to New York, then to Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and Los Angeles. I might be giving the filmmakers a bit too much credit, but there are several thematic threads running through. The first, of course, is showing skin. There is plenty of it in “Strip Game,” with extended footage of women sliding down poles for money, and on one scarring occasion, doing far more than that. As expected, the women in the movie are very attractive for the most part. The majority of the film is spent on their dancing, so those looking for a cheap thrill will not be disappointed.
Most of the non-stripping screen time is devoted to interviewing the women on subjects such as familial relations, dating customers, and a horde of other topics that actually succeed in making the film seem personal. Some of the interviews are amusing because the girls are more concerned with talking about money. Others are downright bizarre, such as the scene in which the mother discusses watching her daughter at work. At one point, a girl really opens up for the camera admitting that she feels very lonely in her life. This is deeply moving, but since the focus of the film is not a psychological study of strippers, it seems out of context. Thirty seconds after this touching scene, we are back inside the club watching the girls in action. This is true to the schizophrenic nature of the film, which can’t always decide what it wants to accomplish. This is ultimately unimportant because the subject matter is not supposed to be weighty.
The celebrities don’t really be serving a purpose, and it is especially strenuous to listen to Scarface discuss topics that can’t be addressed on television. Method Man is the perfect host, though, because he is an amusing hype man and he pulls off the serious stuff surprisingly well. One speech near the end is surprisingly touching, because he attacks (in his typical marijuana-induced fashion) the people who look down on strippers for what they do. His eloquence there sums up what he is trying to accomplish, which was to show that this lifestyle is not so bad, especially when the women are working towards something else for themselves or their children. There is far more exploitation going on in the film to make the message ring completely true, but they do provide a face and a character to some of the women. The final moments also provide some closure, telling the audience what the women have been doing since the film was made and what they are planning to do with their lives. This is all somewhat trivialized by the overtly sexual nature of the rest of the movie, but for a stripper documentary, their hearts were certainly in the right place. Meth is actually listed as the director, and the film is surprisingly technically tight for the work of someone without the usual directorial seasoning.
The music is mostly what one might expect, with plenty of club-ready hip-hop, but a nice touch is added near the end. Up to the midpoint, the music is relatively effective but generic, and the results are excellent when a few old-school Method Man jams are thrown in. “Tical” probably doesn’t strike you as strip-club fodder, but it injects a new bit of life into the film. The musical score is solid, but is boosted greatly when the smoked-out antics of Johnny Blaze circa 1994 are thrown in.
A surprisingly complete set of extras are thrown in on top of the 70 minute film. There are extra interviews with Method Man and some extended footage of the strippers. The most important addition, though, is director’s commentary with the tour guide himself. Method Man adds plenty of replay value with his intelligent and amusing commentary track, although he seems a bit too subdued to pull it off perfectly. Regardless, there are a handful of great moments when the commentary is thrown on. If he could have talked Redman to hop on there with him, it would have been even better.
For a documentary about strippers directed by a rapper, “The Strip Game” is surprisingly well-intended. Method Man brings character and a touch of heart to the documentary, and he does as complete a job as possible in portraying both the everyday occurrences in strip clubs and the behind-the-scenes lives of the workers. It is tough to recommend this to more conscious viewers because of the exploitative qualities, but those who want to be entertained without feeling too guilty will be right at home with “The Strip Game.” Just make sure you take it for what it is, and nothing else.
Content: 6.5 of 10
Layout: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: Arpil 19, 2005