- on Friday, 03 July 2015 14:33
- by Frank Wilkins
Apparently Steven Soderbergh and filmmakers were so caught off guard (as were we) by the surprising success of 2012’s Magic Mike, that they failed to incorporate a natural segue that leads into a second chapter. But that’s never stopped Hollywood from plowing forth with a sequel anyway, and it certainly didn’t with Magic Mike XXL, a film that lacks the same wit, charm, and gritty ambiance of the original.
Don’t think for a minute that the futility of a discussion about pacing, cinematography, and character development in a movie like this is lost on me, as those aren’t the things people come in droves to see in a film about male strippers. And this analysis certainly won’t go there. But with so many other missing elements that made the original so enjoyable, none of the magic remains in Magic Mike XXL.
With the use of some silly excuses, director Gregory Jacobs and writer Reid Carolin attempt to explain why three major characters (including Mathew McConaughey’s Dallas) are absent this time around, and why the titular Mike (Channing Tatum) has become disillusioned with the legitimate working world and instead becomes interested in reuniting the boys for another go at the male stripper spotlight.
Apparently, the furniture making business isn’t all that and the girl he thought was the one… actually wasn’t. So when Big Dick Ritchie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Mat Bomer), Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez) come knocking as they make their way to a Stripper convention (didn’t know those actually existed), Mike jumps at the chance to get the band back together and go on the road. Naturally, Jacobs takes that literally and makes Magic Mike XXL a road trip movie. A sort of traveling male revue, if you will, and the perfect opportunity for the guys to take us from one strip sequence to the next.
First stop is drag queen night at the fictional Mad Mary’s that features the boys taking the stage before eventually settling in at a beach party where Mike meets Amber Heard’s Zoe, a photographer who he’d like to learn more about. Their conversation is meant to represent a meaningful connection between the two, but in trying to be mysterious, Heard instead makes her Zoe so distant and aloof, neither Mike nor the audience understands her. The scene is tedious and quickly becomes almost unwatchable. And a later chance for the two to hook up doesn’t fare any better.
As the boys spend the night on the beach, the film grinds to a screeching halt with another extended scene of mind-numbing, improvisational banter about what happened to the characters between films and more mindless drivel about what each wants from life. With the scene, Jacobs goes for character building but instead gets boring.
Next stop is the home of Rome (Jada Pinkett), an old friend of Mike’s who is now the impresario of a unique exotic entertainment palace. Rome reluctantly agrees to help choreograph a new act which they hope to reveal once they get to the convention in Myrtle Beach. This scene, featuring The Kings of Tampa showcasing their “talents,” comes closest to what the audience paid admission to see. But ladies, don’t get your hopes too high as there’s mostly just a bunch of bare-chested gyrating and vulgar bumping and grinding with otherwise very little skin and even less sensuality. The money shot comes earlier in the film when Big Dick Richie visits a convenience store and surprises the fortuitous clerk with an impromptu shirtless performance – still can’t figure out why they get so angry at their shirts – that will likely change how we all feel about gas station truck stops forever.
Magic Mike XXL doesn’t even rise to the ground-level expectations we had coming in and is, in fact, probably more in line with what we all thought the original would be: just a shameless crowd-pleaser with a ton of beefcake tantalizing the audience with glistening abs and strained thongs struggling to do their job. Anyone expecting the surprise, unexpected chemistry, or anything resembling the visual panache Soderbergh brought to the original, will be seriously disappointed. And no. We don’t learn what the XXL of the title means. We can only speculate.
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use.
Runtime: 115 mins
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Writer: Reid Carolin
Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer
Genre: Comedy | Music
Tagline: Back to the grind.
Memorable Movie Quote: "We're gonna see if you've still go the magic in that mike."
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: http://www.magicmikemovie.com/
Release Date: July 3, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: October 6, 2015.
Synopsis: Picking up the story three years after Mike (Channing Tatum) bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, Magic Mike XXL finds the remaining Kings of Tampa likewise ready to throw in the towel. But they want to do it their way: burning down the house in one last blow-out performance in Myrtle Beach, and with legendary headliner Magic Mike sharing the spotlight with them. On the road to their final show, with whistle stops in Jacksonville and Savannah to renew old acquaintances and make new friends, Mike and the guys learn some new moves and shake off the past in surprising ways.
Available on Blu-ray - October 6, 2015
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A
Warner Bros. has followed up its shameless crowd-pleaser with an equally underwhelming blu-ray release that feels as skimpy on the extra features as its actors do on clothing. Sure, the colors and vibrancy of the Georgia filming locations pop as does the booming soundtrack that features an endless bombardment of unrecognizable hip-hop and house beats that provide the perfect musical stage for the sexy shenanigans. But there’s just not much in Magic Mike XXL that can be helped by blu-ray. Three short featurettes round out the offering and provide little in the way of extra entertainment for fans of the film. They are:
The Moves of Magic Mike XXL (00:08:35) in which Choreographer Alison Faulk and Assistant choreographer Terese Espinosa sit around and discuss how they created the various moves for Magic Mike XXL. There’s a lot of bumping, grinding and dry-humping but very little magic between the stars as they try to work out their routines.
Extended Malik Scene (00:03:42) - There’s nothing to see here as it is just more of Stephen Boss's naughty performance in the Savannah whore house. Move along, folks.
Georgia (00:02:09) - Director/Producer Greg Jacobs and producer Steven Soderberg spend a scant two minutes discussing why they chose to shoot the film in and near Savannah Georgia.