Three years after Mike bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, he and the remaining Kings of Tampa hit the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blow-out performance.
They're back with abs more defined than ever, Steven Soderbergh's praised Magic Mike is back for another go-round: this time with his longtime assistant, director Gregory Jacobs at the helm. A lot of women might have been disappointed in the first movie as it actually explored more of those men's life, what they do and the hardship it is to live that type of lifestyle. After three years in the making the project wasn't exactly a rush job. This mixed road trip and musical: this new breed provides a sense of structure. One of the major theme is something they talk about a lot in the film: the idea of being everything this person you're dancing for in this moment needs, everything this woman needs right now, you can give that to her and she loves you for it. It's philosophical. The film explores the strange beauty of that. They dance because they love it, they've chosen a legitimate career bringing happiness to the ladies of the world. Characters are all rethinking the male burlesque but it's exactly the same thing all over again for the muscly strippers, except with no Matthew McConaughey this time around. Channing Tatum is a very good dancer, but there's none of the physical brilliance of Tatum's performance in the Oscar worthy wrestling movie Foxcatcher; nor the wit and fun of his cop in 21 & 22 Jump Street.
This film really deals with the camaraderie among those men, the conversations they have about what they do, their view point on their position in life and the way they affect the women their dancing for. While the draw of handsome men in their underwear is obvious, it's the chemistry between them that makes Mike Magic. These laid-back ladies' men manage to be blocky and vulnerable, in their geniality, old fashioned manners and tendency to put women on a pedestal. They're a welcomed antidote to the obnoxious all-male ensembles that have become mainstream in commercial comedy (Earliest Entourage being the best example). The attitude is that we all (mostly) know why we're here and let's have a good time! Writers have junked the do-I-really-want-to-be-a-male-stripper concept which allegedly gave the first movie depth, or at any rate some dramatic interest. There's no narrative pull or jeopardy about anything that happens on screen. Even the movie reminds you , just before its final showdown, that there's nothing at stakes here, nothing to be won or lost. Just the joy of amazingly sculpted bodies in motion. This fact increased the quotient of pure entertainment by lowering its ambitions. Stripping isn't comic or tragic: it's just great! However the film is actually a lot deeper than you might expect; with a quick witted script that refuses to take it all seriously as its simply notes the passage of time while stressing the importance of living in the present and making the most of your gifts. Their ideas is to make all the ladies in their audience feel special and catered, that it's about them but in a self consciously fun way, not as dominance.
We're all invited to believe that this is of course not demeaning or ironic but romantic and fun. In this consciously fun way a positive energy is building throughout the movie from scene to scene until the explosive finale. Indeed, it's a gorgeous looking and beautifully shot movie (in every possible way...), with excellent cinematography and lightning, very similar to the first one. This isn't the MTV movie the trailer tries to make you think it is. Moreover, I may not be entirely over this fantastic gaz station scene, involving Joe Manganiello and a Backstreet Boys' song. Freaking good! Plus, there's one moment when the movie regain its soul and comes alive in its goofy way; it's when Mike is in his workshop, brooding about the possibility of hitting the road again and he improvises a little dance routine around his saws, drills and workbench. It's silly, but there's some flair, mostly because it's not weighed down with mock sexiness and the need to patronise women with naughty but nice pelvic thrusting. Finally, Magic Mike XXL is set in the real world too but delivers more of that original promises: you want the hottest male strippers, you got them. It may be the gayest straight film ever made or the straightest gay one and I don't care either way because this film is ridiculously entertaining.
Overall, this film might be deceptive for a certain demographic because it's actually a well shot, well filmed, dealing with interesting and well acted character. In some ways Magic Mike XXL is the film that many feared the original might be (and wasn't). Channing Tatum still packs a bagful of charm along with his merry band of male strippers.