Magic Mike XXL

Magic Mike XXLAfter leaving the stripping life behind, Mike (Channing Tatum) is now tending to his furniture business full-time. When he gets a call from Tarzan (Kevin Nash), he heads to meet Tarzan, Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias), Ken (Matt Bomer), and Tito (Adam Rodriguez). The crew convinces a reluctant Mike to join them for one last ride to the stripper convention at Myrtle Beach.

As the crew heads to the convention, they hit a few bumps in the road. They meet some new friends and reconnect with some old friends. Some may even find love along the way.

That’s it. That’s all there is to the story.

Magic Mike XXL learned from its predecessor. Magic Mike focused heavily on the story, taking us into the seedy underbelly of the male stripping world. A world with women, money, drugs, and the dangers that go along with it. XXL abandons all of that. What the audience wants is well-chiseled, half-naked men and dancing. (I only say half-naked, because fully naked men would get the deadly NC17 rating.) Nothing more. That’s pretty much all you get with XXL.

The story in this second installment is basic. The guys want to have one last ride. They want to have fun. There is no complex character development. No dark side to the movie. It is a group of “male entertainers” on a road trip. And it goes exactly as expected. This is the reason Magic Mike XXL is so much better than the first movie.

Channing Tatum is hands down one of the best dancers of our time. While they could have given him a little more time to do what he does best, he still gets the job done. Stephen “Twitch” Boss is basically the second coming of Channing Tatum. Putting these two incredible talents in the same movie, and you’re pretty much guaranteed success.

The biggest surprise of the movie was Joe Manganiello. Joe struggled a bit with the choreography in the first movie. Sure, he is good eye candy. But, let’s face it, when it came to the dancing, he was a bit stiff. (No pun intended.) Joe has obviously spent some time working on his dancing in the last few years. While he is no Channing Tatum or Twitch, he actually pulls off a solo dance in what is easily the funniest scene in the movie. (It is a scene that borrows heavily from Channing’s other recent successes. As it turns out, the scene works with male strippers, too.) Somehow, while Joe was working on his dance moves, he also found the time to figure out how to be funny. Big Dick Richie is hilarious and really carries the movie.

The rest of the cast is fine. You get what you would expect for this type of movie. Jada Pinkett Smith and Andie MacDowell are a nice touch, giving us a few good female characters that show you don’t have to be in your early 20s to star in a stripping film. My only complaint with the cast is Kevin Nash. I was confused why he was in the first movie. I was even more confused by his character coming back for the sequel. It’s not enough to detract from the movie, but I wouldn’t have been sad if he didn’t make it for the last ride.

The audience at the screening was the rowdiest I’ve ever seen at any movie. But it’s not really surprising. With a lot more dancing, and a funnier script than expected, I get it. This is also one of those movies I feared would fall into the trap of putting all the best parts in the trailer, leaving you feeling unsatisfied. Fortunately, those scenes you see are just teasers. Magic Mike XXL easily leaves the original in the dust. And, guys, you can accompany your significant other to the movie. You will be entertained and likely reap the benefits of her seeing it.

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