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Movie Review of the Week: “Magic Mike XXL”

Movie Review of the Week: “Magic Mike XXL”
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By Alison Bailes

It took me a while to realize that the title to this male stripping sequel wasn’t some crazy Roman numeral like at the Superbowl. (What would that be anyway…a bizarro 30?). Finally it dawned on me; it means “double eXtra Large”.  A penis joke right there in the title! How fabulous.

The only thing doubled in this tedious retread is the boredom you will feel watching a bunch of inarticulate meatheads amble through a non-existent plot.  Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello et al. return to flex their muscles and grind their hips but you won’t find a single line of wit or humor. Sample dialogue goes a bit like this: “Bro! Dude! F**k! Motherf**ker!”

Magic Mike

The screenplay, as such, is written by Reid Carolin but it more closely resembles a loosely assembled bunch of scenes that approximate a road movie with a Big Finale. It is enough to know that our trusty strippers, sorry I mean Male Entertainers, get the gang back together and drive to Myrtle Beach with some detours along the way. Joining the familiar torsos are Donald Glover as a whiz rapper and ex-NFLer Michael Strahan who should definitely keep his day job. Matthew McConaughey’s agent had the right idea, and Dallas exists only in absentia.

But wait, there are women in this testosterone road trip! Amber Heard makes zero impression as a charisma-lacking photographer. Her first scene is filmed at night on the beach, in such inky darkness that she is almost invisible (shockingly Steven Soderbergh served as the DP!). Andie MacDowell plays a raunchy Southern Belle and Jada Pinkett Smith is unintentionally hilarious as a Mistress of Ceremonies at a pleasure plantation en route to the big show. The storyline lurches from one set piece to another, with a requisite dance/stripping number punctuating each scene.

Some excellent dance musicals have dopey dialogue and silly plots, so I was willing to overlook “MMXXL”’s embarrassing script as long as the dancing delivered. Alas, even here the performances come up short. You see, the Male Entertainers want to prove they are artists and not just ripped lunk-heads, so Mike (Tatum) comes up with some new choreography. Out with the firemen costumes and naval uniforms and in with ….well what exactly? The “dances” still involve clothes coming off and huge amounts of writhing and thrusting; giggling women are dry-humped and tossed around the stage like blow-up dolls but the fun of it all seems to have vanished. In trying to be “arty”, the dancers end up taking themselves too seriously. Sometimes a movie about male stripping just needs to have peaked caps, fire-hoses and billy clubs.

“MMXXL” isn’t as funny or as campy as “Showgirls” but I wish it had been. An early dance scene with Tatum alone in his workroom showed promise for some inventive movement and some hilarious use of phallic-shaped tools. But the magic has gone. Like an old flame who used to incite heart palpitations but now just seems sad, “Magic Mike XXL” is a flaccid flop.








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