Back to the Grind
Magic Mike XXL is directed by Gregory Jacobs (Wind Chill, Criminal) and stars Channing Tatum (Jump Street Series, Jupiter Ascending), Matt Bomer (White Collar, In Time), Kevin Nash (John Wick, The Longest Yard), Joe Manganiello (Spider-Man, Sabotage), Adam Rodriguez (The Night Shift, Reckless), Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral, Scream 2), Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) and Donald Glover (Community, The Lazarus Effect). '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'. Can Magic Mike be a hit the second time in a row or was it just a one night fling? Was this sequel really necessary?
In my opinion - Magic Mike XXL played a lot like Pitch Perfect 2 - it brought to the table what the predecessor didn't but it lacked what the first instalment had. Magic Mike XXL really does have sparks of being a great movie and is incredibly enjoyable at times. However, the film also has many times where you don't know where the plot is going and some scenes feel a little overlong. The film gets off to a really strong start, loses itself in the 2nd act but gets better again for the grand finale. I'd say that Magic Mike XXL is nearly just as enjoyable as the first movie which solidifies this as a credible series in Hollywood. However, I don't believe that this sequel was necessary - probably just made it for the money but it was demanded by fans and I'm sure they won't be disappointed!
The biggest issue I had with this film is that the plot is pretty much non-existent until about half way through. I questioned whether this was a road trip movie at times because it just felt like we were watching these characters visit different places for no clear reason. This did make the plot feel a little messy. I think the script didn't help this and some of the lines were very broad and didn't directly mention where the characters were going to go and why. One of the scenes that was pretty pointless was when the characters visit Andie MacDowell's character - the scene did provide a few laughs but it just went on and on and in the end SPOILER the boys only got a car out of it. I did like how they created a 'stripping convention' which was a humorous touch but it did feel of a low production value which is probably down to the extremely low budget. What I did like about the story is how they eliminated the characters that didn't return for this film. Dallas and The Kid had a believable explanation and Brooke's departure was convincing too. The film also felt a lot more like a 'bromance' movie than a 'stripper' movie - there is basically no stripping scenes until the final act which the target audience may be disappointed by. This film is like Entourage meets The Hangover meets Pitch Perfect meets the first Magic Mike.
Magic Mike XXL also has a lot less class than the first instalment. What I liked about the predecessor is that it was quite artistic with its editing and looked beyond the stripping and actually developed the characters. I feel that this film wasn't that artistic and didn't really break any boundaries. Some of the lighting choices were a little bit too low lit which was quite irritating to watch.
When the stripping does come, it comes with a bang - Just a warning, when the 'Marry You' sequence comes on - its not all happy - Mr Grey makes an appearance. In general, the stripping scenes were choreographed very well and very basically transformed into dance routines. Channing Tatum proved he could dance in Step Up but he proved he could dance and 'act sexy' here too. The soundtrack was also very suitable - I liked how some of the cast members recorded covers of sounds. For example, Matt Bomer's rendition of 'Heaven' was an effective scene in the film and is probably something that Magic Mike fanatics are going to want to purchase after they've seen it.
One thing that I really liked about this film is that it was much much funnier than the first one - maybe the XXL stands for Xtra Xtra Laughs? One of my favourite scenes that I will remember for a long time is when one of the characters is sent in to a petrol station by the others to try and make the female cashier smile (She has a face thats as blank as a piece of paper). This scene gives a whole new meaning to 'I Want it that Way' by the Backstreet Boys - it is utterly hilarious! This was definitely my favourite moment of the film. However, there are also many laughs along the way as each character brings a different humorous element to the table.
Even though this film didn't break any boundaries editing-wise, it did explore areas that should be explored more. I really liked how the characters visited a gay strip club and a black strip club - this added a lot more diversity and equality into the film which was nice to see. This was especially nice as this type of film would stereotypically be filled with 'tools' so it was nice to see other types of characters and personalities explored. I also really liked how this film portrayed women - stereotypically, this film should show women as man obsessed but it adds a new level to that. One of the characters which helped to bring this was Jada Pinkett Smith - her character made sure that all of the women felt empowered and 'beautiful'. She also suggested that the strippers give the females what their husbands won't give them - they 'heal' them. Females loving Strippers is never going to create feminist approval but I think the film did the best that it could in making women have higher self esteems.
Finally, the acting is very good. Magic Mike XXL has an XXL cast so I'm only going to mention the ones who had stand out performances. I really thought Channing Tatum held the film really well - I think he is an excellent actor - even though he never really changes his look - Jenko from Jump Street and Mike are very different characters but he plays them both fantastically. Matt Bomer was also very funny and was an explanation for many of the funny scenes. However, the ladies were also very good. I thought Jada Pinkett Smith was fantastic and her character was probably my favourite. However, when she appeared on screen for her minor role, Elizabeth Banks stole the show! She is another example of an extremely diverse talent - both on screen and off screen!
Magic Mike XXL brings what the first didn't but lacks what the first did. The plot is messy and can be hard to follow at times. However, this doesn't stop Magic Mike XXL from being extremely enjoyable with likeable characters, a good soundtrack, good routines and very funny moments. Magic Mike XXL is more than just eye candy - it surprisingly explores areas that this type of film wouldn't traditionally explore.