Tatum and Team Turn Up the Titillation in Sequel
The original Magic Mike was so raw-edged and realistic that it made you forget it was a film and not part of your life. Unfortunately, this sequel Magic Mike XXL is not like that at all.
In comparison with the original, it is relatively superficial. The notion of plausible character and plot development has been tossed out the window. In its place is a sensual take the money-and-run sequel based entirely on titillation.
Channing Tatum is back in the title role. That is the good news. The bad news is Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn and a other actors critical to the success of the original are absent. And that absence is conspicuous. Also missing in action is the film’s legendary director, Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh. Soderbergh retired in 2013 due to frustration with the obstacles facing filmmakers in the corporate Hollywood environment.
[If you haven’t heard about it, read Steven Soderbergh’s State Of Cinema Talk]
So back to Magic Mike XXL. This film picks up three years after the end of the first episode. It conveniently ignores the fact that Mike left stripping for a legit line of work so he could walk off into the sunset with his grateful girlfriend. Parhaps they were assuming that we’d forgotten or that it was a completely new audience.
The film starts with Mike being single again, and doing well as a furniture designer. Then he is tricked into attending a wake for Dallas, his former boss at the notorious Xquisite nightclub.
So that kind of explains the absence of McConaughey.
When he arrives for the wake, Mike learns that Dallas is alive and well and living in Macao. He had been tricked by his pals – a fake death notice written as a ruse to get him back for their planned reunion of The Kings of Tampa. The brawny brotherhood of hunky dudes now want to take their bawdy burlesque show on the road.
And they want Magic Mike back.
Five have already signed on: Tarzan played by Kevin Nash, Big Dick played by Joe Manganiello, Tito played by Adam Rodriguez and Ken played by Matt Bomer, as well as rubbery eunuch Tobias played by Gabriel Iglesias. Tobias has been enlisted to serve as chauffeur of their food truck-turned-tour bus.
The plan is to perform in a competition at the annual strippers convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. For that, they need to travel from Florida, in the tour bus.
Mike is easily convinced to join his pals, and the motley crew is soon making their way across the South, stopping to strip at seedy dives along the way. But there is a stop at one upscale establishment. It is run by Mike’s ex, Rome, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, and caters to a predominantly black clientele. Among the buff bods in her sepia stable are Andre, played by Donald Glover, Augustus, played by Michael Strahan and Malik, played by Stephen “tWitch” Boss.
Magic Mike XXL was directed by Gregory Jacobs, best known for the made-for-TV Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra. That effort which landed 11 Emmys in 2013. It is really disappointing that he didn’t have a credible story line for this big screen production.
Magic Mike XXL is an unabashedly carnal indulgence solely interested in overstimulating eager women.
Magic Mike XXL
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for nudity, drug use, graphic sexuality and pervasive profanity
Running time: 115 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
Watch Magic Mike XXL trailer
Of the Rotten Tomatoes’ 23 critics, Chris Hewitt of St. Paul Express liked the movie, but Pioneer Mick Lasalle of San Francisco Chronicle did not. Those 23 and another 57 critics gave it 6 out of 10, with only 58% giving it a “Fresh” rating, and 42% rating it “rotten”
Critics Consensus: Magic Mike XXL has enough narrative thrust and beefy charm to deliver another helping of well-oiled entertainment, even if this sequel isn’t quite as pleasurable as its predecessor.
The Rottentomatoes audience gave it better marks, but the participation rate was low. Out of 17,105 readers 76% liked it, giving it 4 out of 5.