Magic Mike XXL Review
What’s It About? Three years after leaving the Kings of Tampa to work on his furniture business, ‘Magic’ Mike (Channing Tatum) gets a mysterious call from Tarzan (Kevin Nash) to say that Dallas has passed away. When he arrives at the wake, he finds beer, girls in bikinis and a pool party. After hanging out with the guys again, they decide to head to the Myrtle Beach stripper convention to put on one last show.
The Verdict: When Magic Mike was released in 2012, it’s fair to say not many expected it to do as well and be as good as it was. Steven Soderbergh elevated the film above its premise, giving it substance. Since then, star and producer Channing Tatum’s star has risen significantly, and the appetite for a sequel has too.
So here it is, and without two of the original film’s stars (Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettifer) or its director. This would usually ring a few alarm bells, but fear not, for this is every bit as good as its predecessor.
Soderbergh’s long-time assistant director Gregory Jacobs takes the reins here (with Soderbergh still involved, on cinematography duty), which means the film is in very competent, if slightly more straightforward hands.
The plot is slight to say the least – it’s like something straight out of The Muppets; basically ‘let’s put on a big show’ – as an excuse to get the guys back together. But Magic Mike XXL still has the substance of the first film. It’s the characters, and relationships between them that keeps this interesting, and that’s the real selling point here (well, that and the torsos on display, if that’s your bag).
It’s the group of men who make up the Kings that again elevates this far above the sum of its considerable parts. Here is a group of guys who have depth, are likeable, and are genuinely really funny. The recent Entourage film could only dream of having the camaraderie and humour of this group.
And what’s more, each of the Kings gets a fleshed out personality, which means that you genuinely care about these characters; they all get a ‘catch-up’ moment with Mike, and each brings something extra to the film.
Big Dick Richie (Joe Mangianello) is undoubtedly the source of the most laughs, especially in the standout convenience store scene, but he’s followed closely by Ken (Matt Bomer). They near enough all get deeper moments too, in which we see a different side to them.
Though he was the standout in Magic Mike, Dallas is soon forgotten here, and there are a few new characters added to the mix. Jada Pinkett Smith‘s Rome get the most screen time of these, and really does seem to be having a lot of fun, but the always excellent Donald Glover‘s Andre is another nice addition.
The director has sarcastically advised, ‘concentrate on the words, they’re important’, and whilst this is an instruction to sit back and enjoy the show, this perhaps downplays what else this film has to offer. It IS really fun – but it does have some substance.
It’d be wrong not to mention the actual ‘male performance’ scenes, and quite how true to life they are I don’t know, but the film never judges the women that are watching (and participating) in them, in fact quite the opposite, showing women of all races, body types etc being empowered and having a good time. The stripping scenes themselves are on a new level to the first film, better choreographed and more imaginative, as the Kings ditch the fireman outfits and make their routines more personal.
There will be people out there who sadly wouldn’t want to see this simply because it’s a movie about male strippers, but even if you’re not personally enthralled by the prospect of men stripping, give this a go. Don’t let the concept put you off having a really good time.
Final Words: Anybody who enjoyed Magic Mike will love this sequel. It has a surprisingly warm heart, is hilarious at times, and quite possibly the most fun you’ll have in a cinema all year.
Magic Mike XXL is released across the UK on July 3rd 2015.