Wednesday, July 1

Magic Mike XXL Review

Magic Mike XXL
Dir: Gregory Jacobs
Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, and Gabriel Iglesias

“We have a tsunami of dollar bills to get to”. This campy line reflects the attitude of the sequel to Steven Soderbergh’s film about an ambitious male entertainer named Mike. Gone is the grittiness that made “Magic Mike” feel more authentic and dramatic. Gone is the unsavory characterization of the male entertainers being portrayed, one that displayed a lifestyle of indulgence. This makes “Magic Mike XXL” feel like a completely different film than the first, and while this usually spells disaster for a sequel the happy-go-lucky turn, increased humor, and non-stop party-like atmosphere make this film far more entertaining than it should be. “Magic Mike XXL” finally feels like the film everyone thought it would be, a two drink minimum showstopper.

Mike (Channing Tatum) is out of the male entertainment industry, accomplishing his dream of starting a custom furniture business. Though everything isn’t going great, Mike’s girlfriend left him and the business is struggling to take off. An unexpected phone call invites Mike back to the company of his former occupation and onto a road trip to a male stripper convention for one final showcase.

The story, well, it takes a backseat here because it is basically non-existent. Once the guys load into the food truck, a business venture from one of the guys that will offer a party and frozen yogurt on wheels, the story comfortably sets into a repetition of driving, meeting new people, and strip scene. It’s a lazy combination but each new scenario offers all the characters in the group time to shine, instead of just focusing on Mike like the first film did, everyone has the spotlight for a moment.

The cast isn’t tasked with difficult emotional portrayals here, instead they are simply seductive and charming physical specimens who writhe and gyrate in front of, and on top of, willing participants. While the film is rated R, it is much more for coarse language/conversations and provocative situations than the scantily clad, though never completely nude, men in the film. The actors seem more comfortable with taking their cloths off this time around.

The film is also filled with excellent cameos; one in particular is the addition of Jada Pinkett Smith who plays the master of ceremonies for the club that gave Mike his start. Smith fills the role left by Matthew McConaughey and she absolutely nails it. She is intimidating and confident, she garners a respect from the men she employees and from the audience she emphatically refers to as “queens”. Joe Manganiello is given a heftier role this around, one scene in particular is laugh-out-loud funny because of Manganiello’s dedication to the character at that moment.

“Magic Mike XXL” is not without its shortcomings, much of the narrative is lopsidedly stitched together and the dialogue feels painfully improvised. Steven Soderbergh is listed as editor and director of photography for this film, he served as both for the first film as well, though the nuances of style and flair that characterize all his films feels overdone here. While “Magic Mike XXL” may not have much to say about the men who nightly perform and fulfill the fantasy of an admiring and gazing public, it instead simply focuses on the exuberance and excitement felt when the lights go out and the MC says, “welcome to the stage”.

Monte’s Rating

3.25 out of 5.00

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