Steven Soderbergh’s 2012 surprise hit, Magic Mike was a comedy about male entertainers that was unexpectedly charming and funny. While it was advertised primarily as a Showgirls for women, it ended up having a decent plot and much more character development than what most audiences were expecting. That film did extremely well at the box office. It was with this anticipation that my husband and I purchased tickets for the sequel. Magic Mike allowed us (me) to enjoy what perfectly sculpted male bodies have to offer in terms of eye candy, not least of all lead actor, Channing Tatum. There was hope that a sequel could provide us with more of the same as its predecessor.
The premise of Magic Mike XXL is simple. It opens up three after the first movie. Mike (Tatum) and the Kings of Tampa are ready to retire from the stripper life but not without one go big or go home performance, but one that is done on their terms. That’s the plot. No more. No less.
In this sense, Magic Mike XXL defines itself as a road trip movie. Mike is invited to join in with his Florida group, the Tampa Kings, one last time before they retire, at the stripper convention. The story doesn’t allow for much creativity beyond its goal, which is to show a lot of abs and topless men, but at least there are some pretty cool dance sequences. It is in this way that it proves itself to be tailored to women. The impressive and fun dance routine by Big Dick Ritchie (Joe Manganiello), is one of the most memorable scenes. He dances for a miserable store clerk, grinding and showing himself openly all to put a smile on her sad face. Later they travel to the convention where they make new friends and Mike revisits his old love, Rome played by Jada Pinkett Smith who owns a strip club that entertains divorced women or women who have just gone through some break ups. Rome makes the women feel special by always referring to them as queens. Rome asked the crowd at the convention ” Is anyone not on birth control? Because there’s going to be some grown up women stuff up here tonight” She enters this role effortlessly. She tells us what women want and knows what women desire and conveys it well.
Channing Tatum proves to show off his dance moves well, including the scene that is revealed in the trailer, as he playfully twirls for Zoey when he meets her. It’s one of his sexiest moments. Zoey, played by Amber Heard stars as his new love interest but unfortunately, I didn’t buy the chemistry between them. It lacked a lot of substance. There was more chemistry between Mike and Rome. Manganiello seemed to grasp his role with ease, since his acting career has been defined by his ability to look good with or without a shirt on. My biggest complaint was believing Kevin Nash as Tarzan as he came across as tired but Donald Glover shined in his moment as an innocent performer named Andre who raps to a noticeably uncomfortable woman.
Magic Mike XXL was no directed by Soderbergh but he still produced and worked as a cinematographer for the film. In that sense, the film isn’t as character focused or as subversive of the genre as it probably would have been had he been at the helm. Instead, this is exactly the kind of movie that was advertised. The film is light in nature and keeps it moving like a road trip with first in Tito’s yogurt truck and later on they score a car from Zoey’s mom (Andie McDowell) that she had left over from her divorce (a car that is definitely in a sporty style). This romance sub plot between Big Dick and Ritche added a little humour to the over all story.
Ladies, if what you are looking for is a fun night out with your girlfriends rest assured this is a much better choice than actually going to a male strip club. There are hotter than hot guys dancing to a decent soundtrack. Don’t expect much else. But at least in this respect, Magic Mike XXL has potential to be a hit summer film.