MAGIC MIKE XXL, US, 2015, starring Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Andy McDowell, Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks Directed by Gregory Jacobs. 115 minutes. Rated MA (Strong coarse language and sexual references).
Big audiences hurried to Magic Mike back in 2012, eager to participate in the lives of a group of male strippers, their characters, their routines, their emotional tangles, the phenomenon of performing at club nights for women to come to ogle the dancers, throw money at them and shriek at the experience.
In many ways, much the same this time. It is explained to the audience and characters that Dallas, the manager, played by Matthew McConaughey, has gone out on his own. Mike himself, Channing Tatum, has not been dancing for three years and has been trying to run a furniture business, trying to make ends meet, trying to provide pay for his one employee. Then he gets a call from one of his old associates, Tarzan, who seems to indicate that Dallas has died, so off goes Mike to a wake – which is anything but! And, before you can say magic, Mike decides that he wants to join the group and go on one last trip and gig to the strippers’ convention in Myrtle Beach.
This reviewer didn’t find the first film particularly interesting though it had a certain verve. While there is some verve here, it is not enough to make the film really interesting unless you are an avid devotee of the strippers who like to call themselves male entertainers.
On the road, they have a car accident, lose the MC, while Mike has a brainwave to look up an old flame who runs a strip club for African-American women, Domina. As the troupe call in, there are quite a number of acts in her club, plenty of shrieking women again, and a seemingly endless pile of dollar notes to throw at the men. Of course, the acts are lewd and suggestive and the whole thing is pretty raucous, run by Rome, Jaeger Pinkett Smith. The next stop is at the home of a young woman, Amber Heard, whom they met on their travels, to a group of wealthy white Southern women, led by Andie McDowell, who shriek less, but who have many more dollars, and more of the suggestiveness.
While lewd and suggestive are words that seem to have moralistic tone, and they do, some of the ordinary bloggers on the Internet Movie Database, bring up a word which means the same thing but it is more ethically neutral. It is the word classy – and commenting that Magic Mike XXL and the performances are certainly not classy at all.
There are a lot of scenes of bonding between the men, some rehearsals when they get to Myrtle Beach, though how the staging and the performances that follow could be prepared in such a short time only Hollywood could tell. Each of the entertainers gets his own act, but since it is a convention, there are many more women to shriek, and we are shown the cash machines doling out dollars and dollars for eager responses.
Magic Mike XXL will find its audience – but it may well be much smaller than the first film (though Channing Tatum seems more alive to than usual!).
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Released 9 July 2015