You know my opinion of sequels. Rarely are they a logical or necessary extension of an original movie. Cinematic purpose aside, they are nevertheless entertaining – especially if the original was satisfying. Magic Mike was wildly successful, aimed at a target demographic that showed up in full force for the provocative Steven Soderbergh (Contagion) film starring Channing Tatum (22 Jump Street) and Matthew McCounaghey (Interstellar). Thus I wasn’t surprised when I heard there would be a sequel, although I was mildly disappointed to see that not all of the original cast would be returning.
The plot details of Magic Mike XXL aren’t terribly important, are they? Anyone going to see this movie isn’t concerned with such matters, I’m almost certain. Suffice it to say that the titular Mike has made a post-stripping living for himself designing furniture, while the remaining “Kings of Tampa” (sans McCounaghey and Alex Pettyfer) are still giving the ladies fits on stage. Mike has been somewhat reclusive, and his old friends have to dupe him into a reunion. When they finally reconnect, the guys convince him to go on a farewell tour of sorts, one last big hurrah before parting ways again.
The guys’ swan song will take place at a huge male stripper expo, and they have a long road trip ahead of themselves to get there. Mike thinks they need to liven up their act with new material and gains inspiration after dropping in on old friend Rome (Jada Pinkett, The Women), a club owner who provides a unique experience for women who patronize her risqué establishment. With McCounaghey’s Dallas no longer in the picture, the guys need an emcee for their show, and Rome eventually obliges.
The bulk of the movie depicts the camaraderie amongst the guys while intermittently treating the audience to eye-popping gyrations from Channing Tatum, who is quite obviously the superior dancer and unquestionable star of the film. Tatum doesn’t really “do it” for me, but I can’t deny the heat his performances generated. The audience at my viewing was packed with giddy, squealing women who had a boozy good time howling at the screen. I wondered how they would behave at an actual strip club, since the movie had them acting like they’d never seen a real live man before. What else can I really say about Magic Mike XXL? If you enjoyed the first one; surely you’ll like the sequel. The dialogue and acting faltered at points, but the fraternal chemistry among the cast and sizzling dance routines made the film largely enjoyable. Straight men, this one isn’t for you (Duh). Grade: B