Magic Mike XXL: Film Review
Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Matt Bomer, Amber Heard
Director: Gregory Jacobs
The fact that it takes five minutes for Channing Tatum's Mike to emerge from a pool, fully clothed and with a soaking shirt stuck to his near-perfect abs should tell you all you need to know about the sequel to 2012's misunderstood-stripper-with-a-dilemma Magic Mike.
This time around, three years after quitting the Kings of Tampa, Mike's running his furniture business when he gets a call out of the blue from Tarzan (Nash) to tell him that Dallas has died.
But that turns out to be a ruse, and given that Matthew McConaughey's troupe leader Dallas has fled abroad to start anew with the Kid, the guys are on one last road trip heading to the Stripper Convention at Myrtle Beach for one last blast - and they need Mike along as they're lacking an MC and a direction.
So heading to the last hurrah, the group get distracted, stopping off at a bordello run by Jada Pinkett-Smith's , who has a history with Mike and making a house-call in Savannah that leads to a contrivance that could only happen in the movies.
Ladies, there ain't nothing wrong with a bump and grind, and, heaven knows, there's plenty of that on show in Magic Mike XXL.
Whereas the Soderberg original three years ago (he's back on exec-producing duties this time around) was a more heady affair, blessed with character, with occasional scenes of stripping thrown in as the plot progressed, this is anything but.
Aside from just hanging out, this latest sees the Hollywood machine cater to the lowest common denominator (and serve the audiences the more intellectual flick only flirted with) with endless scenes of heavily choreographed routines, complete with so much gyrating, gold lame pouches and dry-humping that it would make anyone blush.
Except it doesn't - because that's really all this film has to offer, and even the fun is lacking at times.
In among the bickering and squabbling, hidden within the utterly atrociously banal dialogue and debate that these bros engage in ("Did you bang her?" being one of the more eloquent moments) there is nothing more than a shallow series of excuses, complete with distinct lack of plot, to let the man-candy let it all hang out on stage and with each other.
There's no edge to this film, no bite in the character and no tension nor sense of any arcs.
Mike's given the largest reason to get back into it all (cos stripping's just in his blood, yo after he has his solo dancing moment in the garage at home) - none of the rest of the crew give any valid reason as to why this stripper convention should be the end of the line for them; there's no call for the finality and no joie de vivre in the long drawn out finale that separates the gang and deprives them of the chemistry of the group.
Andie MacDowall's frustrated Southern belle is a highlight; Jada Pinkett-Smith plays the same character as Fish Mooney on Gotham; and Elizabeth Banks' energetic cameo towards the end provides a welcome burst of joie de vivre. Elsewhere, Mangianello's Big Dick's attempt to get a smile out of a gas attendant at least borders on the self-knowing and comical; and Tatum brings a bit of charm as Mike, but this sequel is relatively flat and stuffed simply with robotic dance routines - though it has to be commended for widening the audience appeal thanks to a scene in a drag club and the aforementioned Southern Belle stop-off, an acknowledgement of older ladies (and even the guys spend a lot of their stage show making sure the plus size ladies are gettin' the lovin' in a rare moment of equality)
Some awkward attempts at character arcs fall flat - Tarzan's getting too old for the game and contemplating life after alone, Big Dick's unable to perform in the bedroom as no lady is ever the one, Ken's facing life when his looks fade. These are all big issues to the guys, but are handled in such a shallow vein and the life lessons are barely learned as the stilted road trip progresses.
All in all, Magic Mike XXL is anything but abs-olutely fabulous; its lack of drive. magic, character and flaccid excuses to whip the ladies up into a frenzy may prove to be cinematic viagra for the girls' night out, but unlike the first film which benefited from being based on Tatum's dancing days, this XXL outing is all trouser, but definitely no mouth.