“Magic Mike XXL” Film Review

Yes, Magic Mike is back.  Is it the XXL experience promised in the title?  Nope.

The sequel to the 2012 film it even more boring and poorly planned out the second time around.  Channing Tatum as producer/Magic Mike with fellow cast members like Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash and Adam Rodriguez (leaving Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer out of the picture).  There are some new faces including Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell, Michael Strahan and Elizabeth Banks.  Steven Soderbergh also did not return as director for this, but instead Gregory Jacobs (first assistant director of “Magic Mike”) takes the wheel, with Reid Carolin returning as the screenwriter.

Honestly, this film should have never been made for the screen.  It felt like a terrible excuse to make for money off of these men and their bodies.  The plot is terrible, the striptease scenes are tamer, and it’s flat-out boring.  Perhaps if Steven Soderbergh had returned as director (instead of just executive producer, cinematographer and director of photography), it would have been better.

It’s been three years since Mike (Tatum) quite the stripping life to run his own furniture business.  His girlfriend from the first film is gone, which means we know a new romance is probably in-store right from the beginning.  One day, however, Mike receives a call from Tarzan (Nash) that Dallas (McConaughey’s character from the first film) has passed away. Mike decides he better travel to the hotel for the wake, where he finds that Tarzan, Big Dick Richie (Manganiello), Ken (Bomer) and Tito (Rodriquez) are actually enjoying themselves with a pool party.  Mike is confused at first, but he quickly learns that Dallas is not dead, and the guys told him that so that he would come to see them.

The true story, in fact, is that Dallas ran off to start his own show in Macau, leaving the guys to come up with a new plan. They tell Mike they are traveling to Myrtle Beach for a stripping convention, in hopes that they can end their stripping careers on a high note.  Mike is hesitant about joining at first, but the next morning he decides to give in to the buzz, traveling with the guys in a fro-yo van owned by Tito and their MC, Tobias (played by Gabriel Inglesias).

Along the way, Mike and Ken resolve their differences, they end up dancing at a drag queen club, and Mike of course meets a photographer name Zoe (Heard).  Then the guys travel to Savannah to find a new MC after Tobias drives the food truck into a tree and ends up in the hospital.  Mike has a plan to stop by an old boss’s house, Rome (Pinkett-Smith), to see if she would do them the favor of being their MC.  She asks him to prove his worth to the ladies visiting her striptease business, but Mike is unsuccessful in persuading her to come with.

Rome still offers Mike and the guys are ride to where they need to next, a mansion where a girl that Tito knows is expecting them.  The men are greeted by the girl’s mother, Nancy (MacDowell), and her rich Southern friends who are having a girl’s night of their own.  And guess who shows up with Tito’s friend?  Zoe, of course.  The night turns into a bizarre evening of talking about ex-husbands and current, stripteases and Richie hooking up with Nancy in order to get her to give them her ex-husband’s Bentley to drive to the hotel.

So, eventually the guys arrive at the convention, where they are greeted by Rome, after she decides to give in.  Then, the woman running the sign-in table happens to be an old friend, Paris (Banks), adding for another unexpected actress turn-up. They end up getting a spot in the convention, dance, etc.  It’s such a pointless and poorly structured film, but I am giving it two diamonds due to the cinematography and joy of watching Pinkett-Smith Banks in her tiny role.

Channing Tatum is still not a solid actor.  Here, the script calls for him to go corny vs. sexy, which makes for some laughable moments.  The rest of the men fall for the cheesy strip scenes as well, including one where Joe Manganiello dances for a convenience store clerk.  Ironically, a movie that is supposed to be about these so-called sexy men is taken cover by solid performances from Jada Pinkett-Smith and Elizabeth Bank’s cameo (McDowell is over-the-top annoying, while the romance between Heard and Tatum never takes off.).

As for the direction from Gregory Jacobs, he tries to tap in to the unique style of Soderbergh, after working on many films with the Oscar winning director.  Unfortunately it just never becomes interesting and becomes a choppy mess.  This mostly due to the pointless screenplay from Reid Carolin.  He tries to go for pure, mindless fun, but that never even comes across. Instead it’s a snooze-fest, making this for one sequel that should have stayed on the shelf.

Conclusion:

“Magic Mike XXL” is no magical film.  Instead, it’s a poorly written mess with boring dances, mediocre male acting and no real fun or point.  Rated R.

2 diamonds

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