FilmReview

Magic Mike Takes Stage Again in Sequel

Adam Reynoso ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Channing Tatum and Matt Bomer in Magic Mike XXL. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

In a summer full of action packed blockbusters, it’s nice to see a movie about the fun times a group of guys have on a road trip. For an even better time, make them a group of male strippers–er, entertainers–and it’s definitely not bad way to pass two hours.

Magic Mike XXL is, in essence, a classic road trip film. It’s about how this group of guys make their way to a stripper convention as a last hurrah, and facing an uncertain future in the real world. As a sequel, it’s much lighter in contrast to the dark tone of the first and it embraces the fun aspects of the stripper scene. Drugs aren’t as serious of a problem and the guys generally seem to enjoy just being together. The sequel also succeeds in giving the supporting cast more to do than in the last outing. Jada Pinkett Smith especially seemed to have fun as the lively, Queen praising emcee, Rome.

The plot—yes, there is a plot— is pretty simple. The guys have decided to head to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach after Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) has taken off to a show overseas with the Kid (Alex Pettyfer). As they prepare to take off, they lure back Mike and, unable to resist the call of the pole, he joins them for one last ride.

The group of guys definitely seem different and more like whole people in this one. Joe Manganiello in particular shines more, despite starting off a bit obnoxious and over the top, he easily hits his groove once they’re on the road and Mike helps him realize he never really liked the routine Dallas came up with. He’s given a challenge to put a smile on a dazed, bored gas station clerk and the scene is perfect, in every way, from the Backstreet Boys song to the guys watching and cheering outside the window and the dance where he pops open a bag of Cheetos all over the place and sprays himself with water all to put a smile on this woman’s face. And yes, she does smile and it’s really an applause worthy scene.

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Channing Tatum and Jada Pinkett Smith in Magic Mike XXL.

Channing Tatum easily slid back into the role and he was really into it, from his first scene in his shop, grinding with his power tools all the way to the grand finale at the stripper convention. And while it did seem a bit too convenient for his character to get a love interest so potentially soon after his break up with Brooke from the last film, it paid off with the cheesy lines and adorable scenes of Tatum not trusting a girl who didn’t like cookies. Another good point the film addressed was how much the guys missed him. Matt Bomer‘s Ken wasn’t quite ready to have him back in the group, still mad at how he left them, but they worked it out. And Kevin Nash‘s Tarzan specifically stood out as he really just missed Mike. This was the development missing from the first film.

In their big performance, something the film had been building up to, it was worth the wait. Each dancer had their time to take the stage and do their own routine, which added meaning to it. Elizabeth Banks joined the cast here, in a very similar role to her part in Pitch Perfect, and it was just as enjoyable, especially her sparks with Smith. As for the dances, the biggest ones were Mike and Richie’s, whose number in particular definitely utilizes Nine Inch Nails in the best way. Mike’s routine involved a tag team approach that was quite impressive and very well coordinated well.

While not trying to dig too deep, Magic Mike XXL succeeds in being an enjoyable, mature movie. It never tries to be more than a road trip movie and that’s okay. Viewers can still revel in the dance numbers and the lengths the male entertainers go to put a smile on a woman’s face. For once, these men are open to being objectified by women instead of the other way around. With the cast more fleshed out and the lighter tone, the film will not disappoint.

Rating: B+

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