Magic Mike XXL (2015)

magicmike2_2015_poster
Magic Mike XXL (2015)
  • Time: 115 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Music
  • Director: Gregory Jacobs
  • Cast: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello

Storyline:

Three years after Mike bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, he and the remaining Kings of Tampa hit the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blow-out performance.

3 reviews

  • (Rating: ☆ ½ out of 4)

    This film is not recommended.

    In brief: The filmmakers can adjust their junk the best they can, but junk is still junk, no matter the size.

    GRADE: C-

    Life is filled with irony. While driving home after seeing the stud dud, Magic Mike XXL, the radio station began playing You Gotta Have a Gimmick from Gypsy, that classic show-tune about strippers. Fate? Coincidence? Bad luck? Whatever, it struck me as a sign of the times. The gimmick was there: The bodies are toned and well oiled. Their moves well choreographed and fluid. Sex is for sale once again in this sequel. Only this time around, the sleaze is on slow-boil and the meat has been tenderized for consumption. The sordidness of male strippers is on the back burner as this film version celebrates the legitimacy of male dancers as a serious art form. Really? This is pure (or impure) fantasy, totally devoid of any reality. With all of its come-ons and dirty dancing (and no frontal nudity), Magic Mike XXL never satisfies its intended audience.

    Magic Mike XXL is not a serious expose about the sex business as its predecessor purported to be. The first installment tried to show the dirty side of the sex-for-sale business, with its sleazy show biz world on display. Not so here. This sequel is a simple dance movie with lotsa sex thrown in. It’s more interested in all the right moves, but there’s very little reality, plot, or logic. This sequel has become a road movie as Mike (Channing Tatum) and his buddies, known as the Kings of Tampa, deciding to relive their glory days by putting on one last show, an encore performance to go out in style at a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach.

    Dare I say, directed (and I am using the term very loosely) by Gregory Jacobs and written (even more loosely) by Reid Carolin, Magic Mike XXL is silly and naughty fun, especially made for repressed gays or horny females looking for the cheapest of thrills. The film just may be perfect for bachelorette parties too, but as a moviegoing experience, it’s limp.

    The non-direction is the main reason for this erectile disfunction of a movie. The film lacks any subtlety or good taste with its groping and in-your-crotch shots. The film’s salaciousness overpowers any fun. But the film does treat both sexes with equal disdain: men are sexual objects and women are sex crazed nymphs. What a piece of work is man!

    The screenplay is an absolute mess. The dialog has an improvisational vibe that is incomprehensible most of the times and stilted the rest of the times. It wants to impress with hip rap, gangsta swagger, and non-stop f-bombs, as if to say, “I’m cool”, but it all comes across as just plain silly and labored. The story spends too much time meeting various characters that never amount to much. Scenes need judicious cutting and go on endlessly (a visit to a black private club, a meeting with some older repressed Southern ladies, a drug-filled night on the beach).

    Most of the choreography (by Alison Faulk) is sexual gyrations and simulated sexual posing, although it is hard to tell what action is being done on stage due to the lousy editing that is too close for comfort and rarely shows off the dance moves and some of the worst photography to be seen in a major studio film: ugly, grainy, out of focus and usually shot in a dinghy yellow-brown hue. Surprisingly, Steven Soderbergh mishandled both duties.

    The cast is uneven. Except for Mr. Tatum, who really can dance, Matt Bomer who tries to develop his ill-gotten pretty boy role, and the charismatic Joe Manganiello who truly looks the part, the others boy toys just mill around bonding and getting high or drunk. The most uncomfortable of the lot seems to be Kevin Nash as Tarzan who plays his role more neanderthal than human. Also adding little to the film except for a winning smile and nice set of abs are Adam Rodriguez as Tito and comedian Gabriel Iglesias in the role as an unfunny stooge named Tobias. However the strangest part of the film is a tawdry cameo by Michael Strahan (of sports and talk show fame). His contribution, a graphic lap dance with an obese woman, is an embarrassment of bad taste that sets back women rights and questions the real motives of the filmmakers and this television personality’s dubious career choices. Adding to this debacle are the wasted talents of Addie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks, Amber Heard, and Jada Pinkett Smith.

    The dance showdown at the stripper convention peters out really fast (pardon the pun) with no real climax (again, my apologies) as the film follows its predictable conclusion. But there are some dance sequences that do work quite effectively: Channing’s all too short scene in his “body” shop, an amusing segment with Mr. Manganiello in a convenience store, and the final dance-off involving mirror images of Channing and Stephen “tWitch” Boss (underused) that become an R-rated version of a So You Think You Can Dance routine. (It makes sense since the choreographer and dancer worked on that television show.)

    The film is a guilty displeasure. As that clever song from Gypsy so aptly stated: “If you wanna grind it, Wait till you refine it.” Magic Mike XXL hits more than its share of bumps than grinds, with no refinement in sight.

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  • Magic Mike XXL is just like those old Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland flicks. Some neighbourhood kids decide to put on a show. The slight difference here is that the kids are “male entertainers” and the theatrical climax — so to speak — is at the male strippers convention.
    Still, it’s a celebration of Americana, post-feminist style. Hero Mike left the strip biz to design and make furniture. He rejoins the troupe when he’s lured to the wake of a still-alive (but absent) old colleague. That’s Mike’s resurrection.
    The narrative covers the gender-role spectrum. The film first focuses on the male entertainers, as they catch up on their separate lives. Their MC is the most maternal, with his yogurt food truck. They move through a show at a drag queen bar, then the trad campfire romance, then a womens’ sex club, then a private visit to some wealthy frustrated women and finally The Big Show.
    For once the film addresses the female gaze. That is, men are displayed in sexual postures and exposure for the satisfaction of the women in the audience. That goes against the groin of Hollywood film. So, too, the reversal of the Cinderella story, where the overly-endowed male — who hasn’t found a woman who can accommodate him — finally finds “the glass slipper” who can. She’s Andie MacDowell.
    The film corrects the assumption that sex is for women to satisfy men. In all three main shows, the men simulate sex for the gratification of women. As they spell out their ethic, they do what the women’s husbands don’t: ask what they want then give it. Revolutionary.
    Significantly, the women here are not uniformly beautiful. Some strikingly large women are serviced as selflessly as the young and beautiful. Its not just the abs, pecs and etceteras that are XXL here. But these men celebrate the women’s beauty that transcends their physical appearance.
    Our heroes conscript one of Mike’s old flames to replace their convalescing MC. She owns the club that makes its female clients all feel they are queens — at least for the night. She similarly calls the shots for the men’s big show. She articulates their function — to idolize and fulfill the women’s fantasies. The men find their magic in serving the women, not themselves.
    Because this reversal strikes at the heart of American show-biz the big numbers are attended by tsunamis of dollar bills. The women show their enthusiasm — and power — by throwing money at the men who are faking sex with — and for once mainly for — them. Here women have the right to be celebrated, worshipped, asked their desires and gratified, and for once they have the money and power to be served. Both in real and in reel life, that’s revolutionary.

  • It’s been three years since Magic Mike and the Kings of Tampa gyrated into public consciousness. The gang’s not quite all here. Gone is director Steven Sodebergh, who has ended the directorial reins over to longtime collaborator Gregory Jacobs in favour of serving as cinematographer and editor under the pseudonyms Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard, respectively. Gone is Matthew McConaughey’s emcee Dallas, who took Alex Pettyfer’s Adam, the first film’s Cinderalla, to Europe and left the rest of the troupe behind. Gone too is Magic Mike himself, retired from the business of being a stripper – ahem, male entertainer. Of course, all it takes is hearing his anthem, Ginuwine’s “Pony,” on Spotify before Mike trots out the bumps and grinds to join his beefcake brothers for one last ride at a strippers convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

    Appending XXL to the title promises something bigger and better, whilst returning screenwriter Reid Carolin ironically sheds all but the slightest semblance to structure and plot. The results are arguable but when Magic Mike XXL hits its groove, which it does here and there, it is difficult to scold the film for its more dullish stretches. Mostly it’s because Mike and his crew are good-hearted men who have but one simple aim: let us entertain you. One could even make a valid claim that Magic Mike XXL is a goodwill mission masquerading as a combination road trip and dance recital.

    Goodwill is certainly ejaculated from Tampa to Savannah to Myrtle Beach and on all ladies short and tall, big and small, young and old. A glum convenience store clerk responds with a smile after Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello, hysterical in his expanded role) puts on an impromptu dance that includes tearing open a bag of chips, dry-humping a vending machine, and hosing himself down with bottled water. The women that frequent Domino’s, a subscription-based pleasure palace overseen by Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), a woman from Mike’s old dancing days, are there to be showered with attention, serenaded with admiration, and made to feel like the queens Rome tells them they are.

    Mike and the gang stumble upon a wine-fueled ladies night hosted by Nancy Davidson (Andie MacDowell), a Southern belle celebrating her recent divorce from the only man she’s ever slept with. This interlude, easily the best part of the film, finds Magic Mike XXL at its most relaxed and appealing as the women of a certain age lament their unsatisfying lives and find their confidence boosted by encouraging words from the boys. There is even the briefest of regrets voiced by Tarzan (Kevin Nash), the elder statesman of the group, who admits he would have traded in his life on the stage “to come home to a wife and kid, people that loved me.” Perhaps an extended version of episode is the sequel Magic Mike might have had in an alternate universe.

    Tatum, however, knows his audience and his audience cares not for “I am not my job” and what could have been ruminations. His audience wants flesh and plenty of it, and don’t forget the thrusting hips and grinding crotches and giving it to them long and hard and just exactly how they like it. And the throbbing, definitely don’t forget the throbbing. Herein lies the true magic of Mike and his merry band of thong-wearing writhers. They’ve got it and they flaunt it, but it’s all in good fun and about making the ladies feel special, giving them a good time, and distracting them from the doldrums of their everyday lives.

    Speaking of the ladies, they come bearing the strongest swagger. Amber Heard, as Mike’s love interest, is an improvement over the original’s Cody Horn, who was an ineffectual presence. Pinkett Smith serves sultry steel whilst MacDowell is an unhinged delight as the divorcée who’s ready to get down and dirty. Best of all may be Elizabeth Banks, who packs quite the punch in her cameo appearance as the convention’s ringleader. Magic Mike XXL may not necessarily leave you wanting more, but Banks definitely does.

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