Magic Mike XXL (2015) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

This sequel to 2012’s surprise smash hit, is a lesser film of quality in terms of writing and direction, while the polished abs of its males stars are on full display, the screenplay could have used some tightening up too. Magic Mike XXL is a ‘road movie’ and the film has it’s moments, but the loss of original director Steven Soderberg hinders the picture from reaching the heights of the first.

Mike (Channing Tatum) and his squad of ethnically diverse male entertainers are headed to a big-time stripper convention in Florida. The trip provides opportunities for the characters to bond, ingest drugs, and meet off-beat supporting characters. There is a laconic pace to Magic Mike XXL that seems to go against the vibrant setting and world that the film takes place in. Long interludes are dull and scenes repeat the same point driven again and again, it’s as if the script needed another pass before production started.

The guys are right at home throwing insults and trading barbs with one another, but they become mush mouthed around women. Maybe, this was supposed to convey innocence, it comes across as bad writing of immature characterizations. The original film wasn’t a world-beater, but in the company of other ‘stripper’ movies (Showgirls, Striptease, One Night in Heaven) it stood out amongst its peers. The directorial choices by Steven Soderberg (serving only as D.P. this time) and the low-key Altman-like vibe/style made for a compelling viewing experience, and masked the short-comings of the screenplay.

This outing is torpedoed by a love-story of stunning banality. The relationship between Channing Tatum and Amber Heard lacks chemistry, interest, or passion. These are two very attractive people, to be sure. However, watching their story arc and the predestined steps play out, is about as interesting as watching the prom king and queen bicker at the big dance.

Sharp photography, a moody atmosphere, and some of the most flexible actors in Hollywood make the film palatable. If this had been the first picture in the series, I don’t think there ever would have been a sequel. Worst of all, the film seems to be pandering to it’s large female, urban, and homosexual audience demographics.

Director: Gregory Jacobs
Stars: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Amber Heard

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