Magic Mike XXL (2015)
Release Date: July 1st, 2015 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Gregory Jacobs Actors: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks
ust because this is a film that hides behind the flimsy appeal of excessive testosterone gushing onto crowds of hypnotized females (specifically young girls and middle-aged women) doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a proper story. Despite presold viewers (or a very, very specific target audience) infrequently solicited to, and a subject matter rarely explored on the big screen, “Magic Mike XXL” isn’t immune to intelligent moviegoers hoping for a bit of plot alongside the exhibition of rippling muscles. But, as it turns out, the filmmakers realized that money could be made without spending time on developing worthwhile characters or intriguing predicaments.
Mike Lane (Channing Tatum), now doing custom furniture designs in Florida, is drawn once again into the world of male entertainers (the preferred nomenclature). Although it’s been three years since he gave up stripping, Mike decides to accompany his old crew, the Kings of Tampa, to the annual Myrtle Beach convention, where they hope to bring to a close their wilder youths in a final tsunami of dollar bills. But can Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), and disc jockey/frozen yogurt food truck vendor/driver Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) maintain their cool long enough to make it to the convention?
Actually, yes, they can. In a surprising – or, perhaps, utterly expected – turn, there is no conflict in “Magic Mike XXL.” Lane talks about the amount of effort he’s put into his business and the deterioration of his relationship with his former girlfriend, but that’s all forgotten a single dance number later. Once Richie throws all the cell phones out of their moving bus’ window, the constraints of reality and all forms of responsibility vanish. And, in an equally shocking manner, the brief hints at underachievement, the lack of skills outside of stripping, or the transitory nature of the profession (all potential snapshots of the unglamorous side of careers based on good looks) are sidelined for the practicing of new routines, extra bromance sequences, and generic road trip happenings. Even the lone female character with more than one scene (Amber Heard as Zoe, a bisexual photographer specializing in drag queens, living life on the road, and trying to do anything not to end up on the pole) isn’t designed to be a love interest or to even have a resolution.
An element of satire might exist in the male entertainers’ perspective of helping bolster women’s confidences and finding themselves amongst limitless sexual opportunities – giving the complete opposite vibe of a female stripper movie (like “Showgirls” or “Striptease”), in which the girls are not just exploited and objectified but also abused and, in some scenarios, forced into prostitution. Here, there’s a level of control and comfort and satisfaction. But, the focus is far more on muscly men in various states of undress, demonstrating physically challenging dance moves perfectly timed to club music.
It’s difficult not to note that the validity afforded to this concept by previous director Steven Soderbergh has waned with relative newcomer Gregory Jacobs (though his experience as a second unit director is considerable). The story is so inconsequential that it essentially resembles heavily edited porn, with all sorts of innuendo and mimed representations of ejaculation. After the finale, which is a protracted series of solo performances by each of the main stars, the movie simply stops, as there is no narrative to conclude. At least, there’s a flashy convertible Rolls Royce that can be glimpsed in a few minutes of this sustained parade of shirtless hunks.
– Mike Massie