MAGIC MIKE XXL
Running Time: 115 mins.
Premise: Three years after “Magic” Mike (Channing Tatum) left the male stripper – er, male entertainer – life to open his own furniture business, he finds himself pulled back in with his old crew when they hit the road to attend a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach.
Behind-the-Scenes: The first Magic Mike was a surprise smash in 2012, grossing about $113 million on a production budget of only $7 million. That film’s director, Steven Soderbergh, did not come back to direct, but did serve as XXL’s director of photography and editor, and is credited using pseudonyms. Apparently, he just wanted to hang out with the guys and join in the party. Soderbergh’s longtime Assistant Director, Gregory Jacobs, makes his directorial debut.
The Good: Improves upon the original in many ways, and delivers the kind of movie audiences probably thought they were getting the first time. Gone are the serious subplots, “the Kid”, and Matthew McConaughey’s MC. What XXL delivers in spades is a genial, good time vibe and it’s infectious. The returning cast members have great camaraderie and it’s fun to be in their company for two hours. Reid Carolyn’s script does a nice job of fleshing out each of the guys, and giving them concerns, self-doubt, and other anxieties that anyone lacking chiseled bods can identify with. Tatum is in his element here and he’s great, but all the other actors rise to his level. Joe Manganiello is used to perfection, as is Jada Pinkett Smith. The dance sequences are inventively choreographed, and the comedy plays fast and loose, with several laugh-out-loud moments. XXL aims to please, and it does just that.
The Bad: The rambling, minimal story lacks structure and may test the patience of some. The romantic subplot involving Tatum and Amber Heard doesn’t really go anywhere. McConaughey’s dynamic presence is missed.
Should You See It?: Yes. This is not just a chick flick. Guys and gals will have an equally good time with this movie. The Magic Mike franchise is 2 for 2 in my book.
Star Rating: **** out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Magic Mike, Step Up
Worse Than: 22 Jump Street
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