Review: Magic Mike XXL
Magic Mike XXL is, at its core, a feminist movie. As long as there has been cinema, men have been given (mostly naked) women to objectify, and purely for their ogling pleasure. That is all changed with the arrival of director Gregory Jacobs’ Magic Mike XXL, where the purpose is to objectify men and to affirm the female’s sense of self-worth. Taking a page from Beyonce, the film promotes the message that women, regardless of their shape, colour, or age, should feel like “Queens”. For a film that is written, directed, edited and starring men, Magic Mike XXL is refreshing and magical indeed. It doesn’t really have much of a plot, but it doesn’t really need one, not when it is this much fun and this empowering.
We pick up three years after the first movie, with much of the gang still together, save for the titular Mike (Channing Tatum), who has started his own general contracting company and seems to have given up his male entertaining days. But then he receives an eye-opening phone call from Tarzan (Kevin Nash), who pranks him (and the audience) into believing that Dallas (the scene stealing Matthew McConaughey from the first film) is dead. He throws on a suit and goes to the wake, only to discover that his old crew has tricked him, and that they need him for one last (pony) ride to a stripping convention, with Dallas long gone and taking The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) with him. So the second movie sees larger roles for Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez)…heck, do their names even matter? And to that end, does the plot?
Instead, what we come to see are gyrating males and entertainment, and lots of both. And we get that. Mostly. But we are forced to endure a number of side trips along the way, including a beach rendezvous that introduces Tatum’s character to Amber Heard’s, who is somehow even more ornamental than the token blonde love interest, as played by Cody Horn, in the first film. We also endure far too long visits to the other one-dimensional women in the film, including Jada Pinkett Smith as the madam of a Charleston pleasure house, and Andie MacDowell as a frustrated Southern Belle, reuniting editor / cinematographer Steven Soderbergh with his early muse of Sex, Lies & Videotape.
There is an early scene that sets the tone for the film, in which Manganiello’s character bump and grinds to a Backstreet Boys song, bringing a smile to an otherwise frustrated and disgruntled convenience store female clerk. Likewise, the film will bring many smiles and much satisfaction to hordes of women wanting to be worshipped.