2015 / Director. Gregory Jacobs.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
MAGIC MIKE was a great film. It took us behind the scenes of an industry that most people would dismiss and it explored the various rigors and commitments that came with it. With director Steven Soderbergh at the helm, it was a strong dramatic character study about an aging stripper faced with the reality that his days in the spotlight were numbered. It was a film that showcased skill and physique. It was tasteful and provocative all at once, and had a strong emotional anchor.
The same cannot be said for MAGIC MIKE XXL, which is a shameless exercise in gratuity. As though the original film’s core themes were irrelevant, this unnecessary sequel is little more than flagrant exploitation of sexed up beefcake. The story picks up three years after the first film as we find Channing Tatum’s Mike character struggling to get his furniture business off the ground. He’s recently single and eager to hit the stage again. Teaming up with his old troupe, they hit the road and make their way for a national male strippers convention.
There is no story here aside from six guys road tripping and dry humping everything with two X chromosomes. No joke. That is all that happens. There is no depth of character, nor is there any story of redemption or self-discovery. There are no characters to care about and the film is little more than a meat-tray with a sprig of parsley on top. With Soderbergh gone, the directorial duties have fallen upon his long time cinematographer, Gregory Jacobs. What he brings to the project is an injection of Viagra and a visually immaculate presentation. There is no doubt that this is a good-looking movie, however it is so bloody mundane. The incredible choreography of the first film is lost. There are no group performances and we are handed a series of uninspiring solo numbers that attempt to be provocative but miss their mark in almost every instance. For the film’s arduous two hour and ten minute running time there are only two sequences that were truly mesmerising. Tatum sprays his workshop with spunk the way a cat marks its territory and later takes the stage in a incredible final performance that almost makes you forget how awful the rest of the movie is.
Nevertheless, women will react uncontrollably for MAGIC MIKE XXL and steam-cleaning companies all over the world will be making a killing removing wet spots from the cinema seats. With every explicit sexual simulation that is thrust on screen, a synchronised tensing of muscles will be felt throughout the theatre. Whether it’s Channing Tatum gyrating with power tools or Joe Manganiello strapping women to a bondage harness… this is a sexed up peep show that will give women and gay men something to fap to.