Magic Mike XXL June 30, 2015 MAGIC MIKE XXL (USA//115mins) Directed by Gregory Jacobs. Starring Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Donald Glover, matt Bomer, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith,Elizabeth Banks, Alison Faulk, Vicky Vox. THE PLOT: Three years after the events of MAGIC MIKE, Mike (Channing Tatum) has got out of the ‘male entertainment’ game, and is running his own furniture company. When his old strip crew roll through town, Mike seizes the opportunity to join them for ‘one last ride’ and to go out in a blaze of glory and dollar bills. THE VERDICT: The trouble with the first MAGIC MIKE film was that while there was a drug running story in there, it was too thin on the ground for the film to be anything other than a dance film; the same almost goes for MAGIC MIKE XXL, which feels as though it is following the story arc of any number of street dance movies, but at least it is not trying to take itself too seriously, and instead gives the audience what it wants. Channing Tatum is back as Mike, and the good news is that he can still bust a move. The same goes for Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Richie and Matt Bomer as Ken. The trouble is that some of the acting that happens in between the strip scenes is painful and awkward. Yes, strong acting is not what MAGIC MIKE fans are looking for, but a step up from the level of soap opera would be nice. The rest of the cast is made up of Jada Pinkett Smith – who obviously has a ball with her predatory character – Elizabeth Banks, Amber Heard, Adam Rodriguez, Donald Glover and Alison Faulk, with a special appearance by drag queen Vicky Vox. McConaughey and Pettyfer are out this time, and the presence of the former is sorely missed. The screenplay, written by Reid Carolin, is basically a road movie with strippers, which is completely fine, but some of the dialogue is cringe worthy, and we never get to really learn about the characters on screen, even though the film is 115 minutes long. This means that the film drags its heels often, with the gaps between the dances often too long and too boring. As well as this, the gang are headed to a Stripper Convention, not a competition, so the audience is never truly given a reason to root for these ripped ‘underdogs’. That said, MAGIC MIKE XXL never tries to be anything that its not; it seems to have learned the lessons from the first film and cuts out any unnecessary story to make the film one about male strippers on the road. Director Gregory Jacobs seems to have no interest in rounding out these characters, and focuses too much on the dance/strip sequences, which become cringey and repetitive. As cinematographer and editor, Steven Soderberg seems to have lost the touch of magic from his previous work, with some truly odd camera angles, and filler scenes left in that drag the pacing of the film down to a crawl. In all, MAGIC MIKE XXL is a road movie about male strippers. The strip sequences are well choreographed, but much of the dialogue is cheesy and badly acted, and without a reason to root for Mike and his band of ripped cohorts, MAGIC MIKE XXL is simply too long, and has little resolution. Fans of the first film will love it though, and the film definitely knows its audience. RATING: 2.5/5 Review by Brogen Hayes Magic Mike XXLReview by Brogen Hayes2015-06-302.5Stripper road movie filmbuff2011 Magic Mike is back, somewhat unexpectedly. Steven Soderbergh’s first film was a sombre expose of male stripper life, partly based on Channing Tatum’s own early-career experiences of stripping. Now that Soderbergh has quit the film business to pursue other interests, his producer and assistant director Gregory Jacobs has taken over the director’s megaphone. Magic Mike XXL starts three years later, with Dallas and The Kid off in Japan doing their own routine (apparently Matthew McConaughey was too expensive after his Oscar win and Alex Pettyfer didn’t get along with Tatum, so they haven’t returned). Mike (Tatum) is working on his furniture business but hasn’t forgotten his moves. When he gets a call from his old buddies Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez), they decide to re-group. They hit the Florida roads to travel to a male stripper convention in Georgia (yes, there is such a thing). Along the way, Mike stops by his former employer and MC Rome (Jada Pinkett-Smith)… Magic Mike XXL is quite a different beast to Soderbergh’s film. It strips away (literally) anything overly dark or troubling to instead aim for a bright, breezy summer road movie. That just feels disingenuous on the part of Jacobs, particularly given his long association with Soderbergh (who stays on here in the capacity of Executive Producer, Director of Photography and Editor). Perhaps the studio wanted something more palatable for summer audiences, so Magic Mike XXL is just that – and nothing more. Even as a road movie, it doesn’t really work. The story stops several times along the way to meet various characters and these scenes go on a little too long, not adding much to the story. Tatum is as engaging as always though, bringing some depth to his character, even if the other guys are thinly sketched. Amber Heard’s love interest is barely there – a criminal waste of her talent. Jacobs’ only other credits as a director are the dimly remembered Criminal and Wind Chill, so he’s not a director of note. It’s obvious that Magic Mike XXL is something of a cash-in, as the film doesn’t really justify its existence or relevance. The ladies will probably love it, but Magic Mike XXL just lacks that certain something: magic. ** emerb “Magic Mike XXL” delivers exactly what you would expect and from that perspective it is a roaring success – an undeniably guilty pleasure! Revisiting Mike and his merry band of male hunks, it is nothing more than pure lighthearted fun and lively entertainment and it makes for a great night out. The first movie back in 2012 was a huge hit and if you liked that, I can assure you that you will love this big-hearted and breezy sequel. “ Magic Mike XXL” is essentially a rambling, musical road trip comedy and I can see it making even more than the first movie’s $113.7 million. The director of the original, Steven Soderbergh has been replaced by his longtime associate, Gregory Jacobs and sadly neither Matthew McConnaughey nor Alex Pettyfer return. However, fear not, “Magic Mike XXL” isn’t lacking – it’s energetic, colourful, charming, never takes itself too seriously and it’s a total blast. In the three years since we last saw him, Tatum’s Mike has “retired” from dancing and has been trying to make a go of it with his own modest woodworking and construction company. It’s still only a small business and he appears to be struggling to make ends meet so when his old buddies, the former Kings of Tampa – Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), pretty boy Ken (Matt Bomer), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) show up on their way to an annual high-profile, male-stripper convention in Myrtle beach, Mike is reinvigorated by their presence. Although he thought he left his youthful dance moves behind him, Mike can’t resist joining them for a final farewell frolic and doesn’t much need to be coaxed back into action. While on the road, the only real conflict spins on the nature of their upcoming performance. Mike wants them to ditch their old routines in favour of all-new dance numbers that reflect their passion. But, with only two days to come up with some fresh routines, the moody, argumentative Richie wants to take the easy way out by just recycling their old act. But when Mike forces him into an impromptu solo dance to make a glum convenience store clerk laugh, you just know all the boys will be back with some fresh moves that more accurately reflect their personal passions. Essentially, the film is made up a series of lively and sometimes odd encounters in the Deep South where the boys hang out, punctuated with extended dance sequences where they show off their skills to great effect. The good times roll as they reconnect with old pals and encounter several new ones. On a night at the beach, Mike meets an intriguing, guarded young stripper-turned-photographer, Zoe (played by Amber Heard). She’s fleeing her upperclass background and a romantic bond of sorts develops. Mike also has a rendezvous with a sultry former flame in Savannah. She is a classy, strong-willed, somewhat older woman named Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), who has transformed a Victorian mansion into a private strip club for black women. Another connection leads them to a very different group of well-to-do Southern ladies at the tasteful home of Nancy Davidson (Andie MacDowell), a Southern belle of a certain age who lusts over the male bodies when they drop by for a visit and ends up soliciting their services for her similarly drooling friends. The whole adventure ramps up to a highly spirited and impressive finale where the men strut their stuff in a series of inventive and somewhat bizarre circumstances! What I like about the movies is that there is more going on behind the scenes – it’s not just a movie for a gang of girls, who want to roar at handsome male bodies. The themes of loyalty, friendship and living your dreams give a nice backdrop to the film. Mike hasn’t had much success with his business and so he decides to take the plunge and enjoy what life has to offer him, live in the now and make each step count. The guys dance because they love it and the pranks, taunts, jibes, unending frivolity and banter continues unabated throughout the film. It works because it all feels so natural and spontaneous. Everyone in the ensemble cast gets ample opportunity to shine. Channing Tatum reprises his role as the endearing titular hero (and also serves as producer) and he gives another winning turn. There is no doubting his skill, he shows remarkable dexterity in all of the dance sequences and his body….well speaks for itself really. It’s good to see the strippers like Big Dick Richie and Ken get a little more screen time and develop as characters – they’re a likeable gang but remain fairly one-dimensional. The women in this movie bring some welcome girl power to this male-dominated flick, including an excellent Pinkett Smith, Elizabeth Banks as the climactic convention’s ringleader and Heard as Tatum’s badass love interest. Admittedly, the plot is loose, there is no subtlety to the many over-the-top dance scenes and it’s really just another big party but sometimes that’s all you want. The great gags, the witty one liners, the infectious bonhomie and the charismatic men go down a treat. “Magic Mike XXL” is charming, engaging, sexy fun and moves along at a swift pace – it will delight women of all ages, not to mention gay men and give them exactly what they’re after. You will come out wanting more!