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Magic Mike XXL Review

By Karen Dahlstrom

Shut Up and Dance


It's been three years since Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) hung up his "Magic Mike" g-string. His dream of settling down and starting his own custom furniture business hasn't exactly gone as planned. So, when his erstwhile strip crew, The Kings of Tampa, roll into town on the way to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, Mike mounts up for one last "Pony" ride.

As the name implies, "Magic Mike XXL" is broader, nuttier and longer (at a hefty 130 min.) than its precedessor. In the first film, director Steven Soderbergh presented a subtle commentary on the economic climate of the day, set against the world of male exotic dancing. In the sequel, all subtext is shed, focusing almost exclusively on the dance routines. Director Gregory Jacobs takes the audience on a ridiculously entertaining road trip, making frequent stops to grindtown.

Since the first film, Xquisite's impresario, Dallas, has taken "The Kid" to start a new show in Macau. As the rest of The Kings of Tampa are left rudderless, they look to the convention as their one last chance to shine. Though we learn a bit more about each member's post-retirement plans and lives outside of the club, the movie is quick to remind us that The Kings aren't out of it yet. On the way to Myrtle Beach, the guys trip on Molly, hang out with drag queens, smoke weed, and use what god gave them to "make women smile."

The film takes on a feminist bent when the crew meets up with Mike's old flame, Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith). Rome is the proprietress of a highly profitable private strip club of sorts, with a stable of hunky dudes in her employ. She refers to her female clients as "queens," and while she sometimes calls her dancers "kings", they are there to make the women happy. Rome's entertainers include Malik (Stephen "Twitch" Boss from "So You Think You Can Dance") - who gives Mike a run for his money, dance-wise - and Andre (Donald Glover), who sings and raps to women instead of dancing. In a conversation with Ken (Matt Bomer), Andre earnestly explains that he loves his job because it makes him feel like he's healing women who have been mistreated or ignored by the men in their lives.

Mike and crew also ascribe to this sentiment, and make it their mission to brighten the lives of ladies on their trip while stepping up their game, dance-wise. (Cue every "training montage" you've ever seen, but oilier, sillier and with more pelvic thrusting.) On the way, Mike meets Zoe (Amber Heard), a former stripper turned aspiring photographer. Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello) romances a rich divorcee (Andie MacDowell), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) makes frozen yogurt, and Tarzan (Kevin Nash) paints. It's surprisingly sweet, considering the raunchiness of the crew's dance routines. "Over the top" hardly begins to explain what happens when these guys take the stage.

With dialogue like "We got a tsunami of dollar bills to get to, daddy," "Magic Mike XXL" is not on track to win any Oscars. In fact, it fairly obliterates any indie cred gained from the first film. The plot is flimsy, the film is overlong, and the dialogue is ridiculous, but it hardly seems to matter. This film is all about having a good time, and everyone on screen is 100% devoted to that cause. Tatum continues to prove he has the magic moves and the charm to carry the movie, while Smith looks like she's having as much fun playing Rome as Matthew McConaughey did as Dallas in the first film. Watch for cameos from Michael Strahan (you may never watch "Live with Kelly and Michael" the same way again) and the always delightful Elizabeth Banks as a former stripper. Like a night at a male revue, "Magic Mike XXL" is embarrassingly, raucously entertaining.

What did you think?

Movie title Magic Mike XXL
Release year 2015
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary Channing Tatum and the Kings of Tampa are back for one last - ahem - ride. And it’s a doozy.
View all articles by Karen Dahlstrom
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