Men don’t buy Playboy for the articles. Women won’t go see “Magic Mike XXL” for the plot or characters and that’s a good thing because “Magic Mike XXL” is a doozy of a screenplay.
“Magic Mike XXL” is purely fan service, nothing more and nothing less. Those who helped the first film reach over $100 million at the box office – on a $7 million budget – have been waiting for Channing Tatum to grind his way back to the big screen since 2012, when the first one was released. He is back with most of the cast for another round of male stripper shenanigans and they are saddled with a screenplay that could be used to put someone to sleep.
Now, the filmmakers know their demographic and aim to please their audience. I’m curious to know if the sequel will satisfy their target demographic. There is so much dead air from scene to scene – which often do not connect or flow well – that the ladies might want to check out of this one and just go home and pop in the Blu-ray special edition of the first movie (which we all know you bought). Wooden dialogue and conversation after conversation about this being “the last ride” (“Furious 7”?) fill in all of the empty space in this movie, which plods along for two hours.
Tatum returns as the titular Mike. He has left his stripping life behind for his furniture business, which seems to make him quite happy. He gets a call from one of his old buddies, who lure him into coming to Myrtle Beach for a stripping convention (one last ride!). Mike is hesitant but agrees to do so. Back are Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez). They bond, rekindle the bromance and reconnect as they make their way to Myrtle Beach.
Their road trip is one of the most boring movie road trips to endure. Nothing ever feels at stake throughout and we are never given a reason to care about any of these people. They make a few pit stops along the way, including to an old flame of Mike’s. They enter a beautiful mansion, owned by Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), who runs some elite strip club for ladies. Mike and Rome’s past seems uncertain for a while but the screenplay quickly clears things up. Smith has a good amount of scenes in the last half but her initial segment drags on and on. Luckily, Smith works with what she was given to do and adds quite a bit of spark to the movie.
Missing from the second outing is Matthew McConaughey, who won a bit of acclaim for his role as Dallas (some even say this was the start of the McConaissance). The movie addresses his absence effectively (not so much with Alex Pettyfer, who also didn’t return). The gang tries to step out of Dallas’ shadow and make it on their own – this is about as far as this movie goes to having some kind of stakes.
Director Steven Soderbergh hands over the directing duties to Gregory Jacobs for the sequel. Soderbergh did stay on as editor and cinematographer, for better or for worse. He often edits his own work , as well as shoots them, and everything that is often wrong with a Soderbergh film is present. The choppy editing and the yellow tint to almost every scene are signature Soderbergh.
To the ladies who may read this review, go have your fun with “Magic Mike XXL”. I would never hope for anyone to have a bad time at the movies. I do, however, promise you that you will check your watch more than a couple of times.
‘Magic Mike XXL’ rates 3 out of 10