"Magic Mike XXL" is the sequel to the 2012 film "Magic Mike" and follows the life of Mike (Channing Tatum) three years after the events of the first movie. Having gotten out of the stripping game at the end of the first film, Mike rejoins the group for one last strip at the National Strippers Convention. Because that's apparently a thing.
Tatum again does fine in this role and leads the cast of characters, all of whom have their own unique personalities and traits which allow for a certain degree of comedy. I found myself laughing a ton in the first hour of this movie because it plays with various comedic moments and adds stripping elements into them, along which jokes about the characters.
Something which this film does which improves upon the original is that it focuses more on characters than the stripping performances. "Magic Mike" seemed to have an unnecessary amount of stripping performances which didn't move the plot along. In "XXL," they save most of the big strip scenes for the finale, which allows for a bigger payoff since we haven't seen it on screen for the last two hours already. The performances are all choreographed really well as the quick dance moves, including a dance where two of dancers reflected each other like a mirror, look fantastic when done right. There is a moment earlier in the film with just Tatum which looked a bit shaky, but everything else looked great.
There's a moment about an hour into the film in which the gang shows up at a night club owned by Jada Pinkett Smith and it slows the movie to a halt for about 15 minutes. The main reason for this is the use of unnecessary striptease sequences. Sure, show a montage or something of what the men at the club can do, but don't focus on a random stripper I don't care about for three minutes and not expect me to lose interest. This was really the only downside of the film. Everything else works really nicely. Smith, when she shows up later in the film, looks like she's having a lot of fun with the role and that's always something nice to see.
Something which had worried me about this film is that three of the characters who were main characters of the first film were no longer in this sequel (Dallas, Adam, and Brooke). Often movies will either throw out some random reason for the absence or just ignore it all-together. The absence of Dallas and Adam pretty much follows the former, as an excuse is given for their being gone and the film goes on. The reason for Brooke's absence works a little better. I won't spoil it, but it plays into some of what Mike is dealing with over the course of the film and I actually liked that despite the limited focus on it.
So yeah, those were my thoughts on "Magic Mike XXL." If you had asked me a week ago if I was going to enjoy this film, I'd have told you that it was probably okay at best. But I actually found myself having fun with this film. Because it diverges from typical roadtrip tropes, and focuses more on its characters and story than just finding new ways to include stripping scenes, it works a lot better than it predecessor. It's funny, and while it slows down for a time, once it gets going again "XXL" stays strong through to the end, although the ending was a bit sudden for my taste.
But those are my thoughts. Leave yours in the comments down below!
Watch my video review of "Magic Mike XXL" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3VEBlQ5mz8