Gregory Jacobs’ Magic Mike XXL is a hoot and a holler, and a total 180 from the original, far more ambitious film, which I legitimately feel is great, subversive cinema. With Steven Soderbergh handling the cinematography and editing (under his usual pseudonyms of Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard, of course), the entire tech package of Magic Mike XXL is super-slick and extremely thoughtful on an aesthetic level; there are some dynamic shots, either because of the camera movements or the still placement of the camera, and the editing has a pleasant hum that allows for an easy-going time. The script is nowhere near as interesting as the first film, but it’s really no less entertaining; this is the male stripper movie for those who felt that there wasn’t enough stripping and saucy shenanigans in Magic Mike. Whereas Soderbergh clearly wanted to subvert expectations with his surprise 2012 blockbuster, here, the vibrant looking sequel is more interested in having fun with a capital F, with a general party atmosphere firmly set in place right from the start.
Gone are any discussions of bank loans and start-up capital in favor of a more jocular, rambunctious tone. Channing Tatum is back as our entry point into this wild and wooly world of male entertainment, with most of the original film’s supporting cast making return appearances (notably absent is Matthew McConaughey). The ultra charismatic Joe Manganiello has a terrifically funny scene inside of a gas station convenience store, Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance shows up for some sexy dance routines, and I loved the Cougar Party with Andie MacDowell (she’s looking very fine…!) Also, the extra hot if too skinny Amber Heard shows up for some fun, Jada Pinkett Smith nails her scenes with authority, and the lovely Elizabeth Banks is a stunner in her extra-tight body suit during the protracted and highly spirited finale. There’s a level of innocent cheesiness to the entire thing that helps to make it all very non-threatening and harmlessly enjoyable, and even if it’s not up to the overall brilliance of the original (how could it be?), there’s plenty here to keep you satisfied. And here’s a final thought — now that we’ve gotten TWO high-profile male stripper movies from a major Hollywood studio, how’s about we get Magic Michelle?
Review by Nick Clement