“Magic Mike XXL” is fan service, perfected.
It’s a sequel that wastes no time trying to fabricate a reason to exist; it simply exists, and it’s glorious.
The stakes here are not just low — they’re nonexistent. There are no arbitrary subplots, convoluted love triangles, or any of the serious ‘deep-dive’ examination of the male stripper world that the first film offered.
This sequel is all about giving these characters room to breathe and have some fun, and it more than achieves that goal. I can’t stress enough how different this film is from the original — it’s like they stripped out all of its “art-house” sensibilities and just left all the fun stuff.
Watching “Magic Mike XXL” is a lot like catching up with your old pals for a couple hours after spending some time apart … if your buddies happened to be super-ripped male strippers that took Molly in the middle of the afternoon.
The “plot?” Mike and his crew of “male entertainers” striptease their way up the Florida coast en route to a stripping convention. What happens if they win this convention? Nothing, really. What happens if they lose? Still nothing. It’s all about the journey, and fortunately, getting there couldn’t have been more fun.
Whenever you think the film is veering somewhere generic, like when Mike and an ambitious soul (Amber Heard) meet on the beach and hit it off, it reminds you that it doesn’t really care about that and cuts back to the guys having fun.
It’s inspiring to see a film so dead-set on making its audience happy. When reviewing a film, it’s best to keep in mind the film’s goals and what it sets out to achieve. This applies to blockbusters, foreign films, indie dramedies, and every other subsection imaginable — what is this movie trying to accomplish, and does it accomplish it?
Regarding “Magic Mike XXL,” the answer is a definitive “hell yes.”
Channing Tatum is completely in his element, and it’s incredible to watch. The man can dance, and the gorgeous (Soderbergh!) photography accentuates his skills masterfully. The way the camera captures his impossible-looking moves is like a bizarre form of visual poetry, and at times he appears to defy gravity, but it’s all real. Tom Cruise may do his own stunts, but Tatum’s feat here may actaully be more impressive.
Everything from the goofy banter between the guys to the brilliant staging of its finale (best use of NIN’s “Closer” ever) is pretty much note perfect. I dare you to watch the Joe Manganiello’s convenience store striptease or Tatum’s wood-shop solo “Pony” performance without cracking a smile or howling like an idiot.
One of the most remarkable details about the film is that it manages to completely satisfy its audience without ever showing a naked body, male or female. There’s some man-butt, but that’s as far as it goes.
Like a well-choreographed strip tease, “Magic Mike XXL” has the viewer under its spell, exhibiting total control, showing you just enough to get the job done but leave you wanting more. It’s the very definition of a crowd-pleaser, and the (mostly female) packed house on opening night hooted, hollered and applauded uproariously throughout.
When Mike encounters the girl from the beach for the second time, she’s down in the dumps, and all Mike wants to do is cheer her up and “give her smile back.” That’s all “Magic Mike XXL” wants for its audience, too, and boy does it achieve it.
Magic Mike XXL is now playing in theatres nationwide.
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