Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Movie Review: “Magic Mike XXL”

Magic Mike XXL

*** 1/2 out of 5
115 minutes
Rated R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use
Warner Bros. Pictures

Article first published at The Reel Place.

OK ladies, I know you love seeing Channing Tatum up on the big screen — my wife is no exception — but let’s keep some decency to your moviegoing habits. Now, before you go calling me sexist, this is more about theater etiquette. I know it may come as a surprise that there could be such a thing when a movie like Magic Mike XXL is what’s playing up on the big screen, but at least wait to holler until he has his shirt off. While that may happen a lot, there’s also no need to talk through the entire movie like you’re some kind of MST3K-reject. Your freak flag doesn’t need to wave the entire runtime.

Now… Magic Mike XXL picks up three years later with Mike (Tatum) getting over a breakup with Brooke. Doing what he loves — making furniture — he works hard keeping his company afloat with one employee by his side. After Mike gets a call from Tarzan (Kevin Nash) that Dallas has passed, he heads to see the boys only to find out it was just a ruse to get him back into the swing of things. He unwittingly joins the crusade — alongside the remaining Kings of Tampa: Ken (Matt Bomer), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), and Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) — to head out on one last trip to Myrtle Beach for a stripper convention and have a final blow-out performance.

If there’s one film to compare Magic Mike XXL to, it’s this summer’s other boys-will-be-boys failure: Entourage. While that film was also filled with arrested adolescence gone wild, at least here we have a group of friends we can casually root for. They may smut around, but at least they’re having fun. Also along for the ride are some supporting characters from Mike’s past: most notably Jada Pinkett Smith as Rome (who owns a private all-male stripper club) and her crooning secret weapon Andre (Donald Glover), Amber Heard as Zoe (a photographer headed for New York City), Andie MacDowell as a southern belle cougar, and Elizabeth Banks as a blast from the past working the convention.

Overstuffed with subplots, the runtime could have used some tightening up. The jokes may land more than they miss, but there is a lot of time spent with characters faux-waxing philosophical — or at least as philosophical as a group of strippers can get — causing the pace to lag when it should be jumping to the next strip scene. And let’s face it, no one is going to Magic Mike XXL to listen to the characters talk. Unfortunately, they do. A lot! and returning screenwriter Reid Carolin gives them nothing new to talk about. They’re all just trying to exorcise some demons before they make the big leap into real adulthood.

It’s too bad Soderbergh didn’t come back as anything more than producer/cinematographer, but then again, even he was handed a hackneyed script. At least this time no one tries to squeeze anything resembling a plot into what’s basically a road trip movie with stripping. They know the fans will be there regardless and anyone else wanting to see what all the fuss is about at least won’t find themselves sitting through one of the worst films of the year. A good time is to be had in Magic Mike XXL, even if it’s of the lobotomized variety.

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