What you thought it was going to be the first time round. A disappointing and demoralising follow up to Soderbergh’s film, with virtually no plot but plenty of hip thrusting and an unsettling exhibition of both men and women.
Channing Tatum and his gang of greased up strippers hit the road again, in the sequel to Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike. Magic Mike XXL sees the gang return and head down South to the annual strippers convention, to show off their abs to over 3,000 screaming women, for no other reason than monetary gain. The plot is vastly different from Soderbergh’s moralising and insightful 2012 hit. New director Gregory Jacobs (whom was once assistant director to Soderbergh) takes it in a completely different direction, focusing on exhibition, gyrations, dollar bills and people not actually having sex, over an actual distinctive and interesting narrative.
The film starts back up with Mike (Tatum) struggling with his furniture business which he has ventured on since leaving the Kings of Tampa three years ago. He is struggling to find jobs, working ridiculously long hours and cannot cover health care for his one lone employee. After receiving a distressing trick call from Tarzan (Kevin Nash) joking that former MC and leader of the Kings, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) has died, Tatum is easily swayed to rejoin the‘dream team’ in a molly-filled dance to South Carolina.
Joe Manganiello’s sidekick role of Big Dick Richie has been fully enhanced in the sequel, mostly due to the departure of McConaughey. He has his big comedy moment while high at a petrol station, where he aims to get a cheeky smile out of the miserable and sour-faced assistant. The sequence sees Manganiello grind on a Pepsi machine – one of the many blatant product placements within the film, which also includes Spotify and Verizon – while throwing a bottle of water over his body. The scene is funny and puts the film more into a comedy genre than a drama which Magic Mike was firmly a part of.
Throughout the film, the women are often sidelined as secondary characters. For example, the relationship hinted at between Mike and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s character is never fully explained and Elizabeth Banks’ character is completely pointless.
Another relationship not fully explored is the budding romance between Mike and Zoe (Amber Heard). Zoe is portrayed as a typical girl-next-door type, who is not fully convinced by the stripper role and seems to have more interest in what is underneath ‘Mike, the stripper’. That is until Jacobs completely exploits her character in the finale scenes, by letting her be thrown about the convention stage, while being dry-humped by Mike and Malik (Stephen Boss, aka tWitch from The Ellen Show) making her seem two-dimensional. Women are portrayed in the film as being needy for attention, from Mike and men in general, or else overweight for the sake of a cheap laugh or gasps during the scenes in which the stripper lift them up and simulate sex on them during a dance routine.
The dance routines in general are lackluster and are essentially carbon copies of the first film’s, expect without the chemistry between the main characters. In fact, the choregraphy (and quiet possibly the plot) could have been taken from Tatum’s star-making film Step-Up.
The drawn-out grand finale sees each King of Tampa get his own segment, including Tarzan painting, Ken (Matt Bomer) singing and Tito (Adam Rocriguez) making ice-cream – all of which are beyond cringey. The finale is disappointing and leaves the audience asking for more. Not more stripping or more dancing, but more plot.
Magic Mike XXL (2015), directed by Gregory Jaocbs, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros., Certificate 15.