US Release Date: 07-01-2015
Directed by: Gregory Jacobs
- Channing Tatum, as
- "Magic Mike" Lane
- Matt Bomer, as
- Joe Manganiello, as
- Big Dick Richie
- Kevin Nash, as
- Adam Rodriguez, as
- Gabriel Iglesias, as
- Andie MacDowell, as
- Amber Heard, as
- Jada Pinkett Smith, as
- Elizabeth Banks, as
- Donald Glover, as
- Michael Strahan, as
- Stephen Boss as
Joe Manganiello, Channing Tatum and Adam Rodriguez in Magic Mike XXL.
You might think that a sequel with a different, less heralded, director and minus two of its biggest stars wouldn't be as good as the first movie. Well even with Gregory Jacobs taking over the helm for Steven Soderbergh (Soderbergh did act as cinematographer) and Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer not returning, Magic Mike XXL still manages to be more entertaining than the original. Gone are all the more serious issues concerning the darker side of the stripper life that bogged down the first Magic Mike. Instead we get a lighthearted road trip with the Kings of Malibu heading out for one last ride before hanging up their banana hammocks for good.
As the story begins, Mike has been out of the stripper game for 3 years when he gets a phone call from Tarzan (Nash) telling him that Dallas (the McConaughey character) has died and inviting him to the wake. Of course it turns out not to be true. Dallas is really in Europe (obviously they didn't want to burn that bridge just in case they make a third movie). Anyway the guys talk Mike into joining them for one last go round the stripper pole by attending an annual stripper convention/contest in Myrtle Beach. Before you can say Gypsy Rose Lee the Kings of Malibu are on I-95 heading north.
The humor is definitely more prominent this time around. Early in the movie, just for old time's sake, Channing Tatum performs his “Pony” routine in his furniture shop using tools as props. It's funny and sexy at the same time. If anything his dance moves have only gotten better. Stripper Mike Lane was the part he was born to play.
The movie's funniest scene comes courtesy of Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Richie. The guys stop to get gas and supplies and there's a very serious looking young woman working the counter. They make a bet whether or not Richie can make her smile. He proceeds to do a truly hilarious strip routine all around the convenience store, while the guys cheer him on from outside the window, finally managing to produce a smile on the woman's face.
They make stops in Jacksonville and Savannah, meeting new people and reuniting with various old friends and lovers along the way. The women in the picture are played by Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Elizabeth Banks and Andie MacDowell. Michael Strahan and Donald Glover both play strippers they meet on their journey. Strahan has one funny strip scene and Glover plays a singing stripper with aspirations of stardom.
Nothing about this movie is meant to be taken seriously and fortunately the filmmakers knew this. This time around is all about the fun. The plot is extremely simple and at times silly, but the dance routines are as entertaining as ever. Like the first movie, no acting awards will be won by the cast, but for anyone looking for a fun, breezy, sexy time at the movies, Magic Mike XXL is the perfect fit.
Joe Manganiello in Magic Mike XXL
Early in the film, Mike finds some cookie dough in his refrigerator with a note on it that his girlfriend left him saying, “Let’s get fat together.” It may as well have read, “Let‘s grow old together.” Mike is not in his twenties anymore and jumps at the chance to once again pretend he is. Richie is supposed to be 35 while Joe Manganiello was barely still in his 30s when he filmed this. Kevin Nash is way over fifty. All act as if they are twenty-something and waiting for life to decide for them what their next step in life should be. My brother Scott has often written in his reviews that men have been depicted on film in the last decade as being immature no matter how old they may be and this film definitely follows suit.
The script attempts a level of drama. Mike’s girlfriend turned down his marriage proposal. Richie has not had sex in four months because girls do not want to have intercourse with his large penis. Ken’s acting career has not taken off. Tarzan feels he has missed out by not having had a wife and children. Blah, blah, blah. Maybe they should smoke less weed so they can formulate a clearer vision of their future.
I have enjoyed many musicals and can appreciate dance routines. Channing Tatum’s moves in his work shop shows he has talent and someone should write a Gene Kelly bio pic for him to star in. I agree with Patrick that Joe Manganiello’s dance at the gas station is funny. The dances at the strip club run by Jada Pinket Smith were boring as they were just clothed simulated sex and demographic filler. Okay, if that is what you want to watch, I understand that you may disagree but that entire sequence could have been cut without much loss to the plot, what little there is.
When the group finally reaches their destination, we are treated to a getting ready for the performance montage, set to a disco song as these men/boys prepare to put on a show. This movie is like an old Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland film only with less clothes and more selfish reasons for wanting to perform. The plot is easily as simple as one of those old black and white backyard musicals and also just as gay appealing. The final routine features the guys in g-strings performing more simulated sex but for me the film peaked with Joe Manganiello asking, “How much for the Cheetos and water?”
I did not care for the first Magic Mike and only found this one slightly better. As Patrick wrote, it does not take itself quite as seriously but I think it should have gone even further and simply parodied itself. Come on, there is plenty of room here for satire. Kevin Nash’s dancing is practically a joke as it is. These guys are in amazing shape but none are ever shown working out or exercising. If not a parody, at least they could have come up with more jokes, as the only time this movie generates any fun at all, is when it does not take itself seriously.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. (2015)