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.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.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.
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.
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), the film 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 lots of sex thrown in. It's more interested in all the right moves, but there's very little reality, plot, or logic. This version 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 movie-going experience, it's limp.
The non-direction is the main reason for this erectile dysfunction 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, gangster 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.)
As that clever song from Gypsy so aptly states: "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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- Jul 8, 2015