MAgic Mike XXL

Rebecca Wynne-walsh

Magic Mike XXL could have gone down a very easy route, the sequel to the 2012 hit about male strippers could have gone all out with bigger set-pieces and less story as sequels so often do. The plot re-joins the group of “male entertainers” from the first film as they plan to leave the business with a bang at a stripper convention. One would think that the loss of Matthew McConaughey would leave the film lacking in terms of charismatic male leads, for the most part this is thankfully not true. McConaughey’s absence allows the other characters to step into the spotlight, making the sequel arguably more character based than the first. The likes of Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello get a great deal more spotlight in this film with their character’s being more well rounded. Manganiello even gets a chance to properly stretch his comedic muscles and steals many sequences, as does Bomer with his singing abilities being brought into play this time around.

Unfortunately Bomer and Manganiello are in the minority when it comes to being three-dimensional, which was perhaps to be expected. Amber Heard appears as a stereotypical “poor little rich girl” the slightly irrelevant love interest for apparent leading man Channing Tatum. Her character adds nothing to the plot except for providing Tatum with a chance to showcase his ability to flirt with pretty actresses. Several big stars appear in small cameo roles. Andie MacDowell and Elizabeth Banks among them. These cameos create short asides providing an element of novelty while being obvious attempts to bulk up the thin plot. A small subplot is created with Jada Pinkett-Smith’s character, Rome the manager of a club Tatum’s Mike used to work at. Her introduction is one of the most self-indulgent sequences of the film. It’s in the lengthy dance sequences that the film loses focus. Magic Mike XXL is at it’s strongest when playing on the relationships and banter between it’s male leads. Needless to say, in the case of this particular film, any serious emotional involvement with the characters is quite often disregarded in favour of brash dance and strip scenes.

Unfortunately it’s Channing Tatum who disappoints the most. Director Gregory Jacobs cleverly used his supporting characters to make up for Tatum’s lack of star quality in this film. He fails to carry the film as a leading man should. Returning as the eponymous “magic” Mike, despite being anything but. His dance routines feel repetitive and impersonal while his acting itself, in what was perhaps an attempt to be understated, appears wooden and uncomfortable. This is not helped by hit-and-miss dialogue, which at moments feels natural and relatable is then let down by blatant attempts to sound “cool”.

It should be of no surprise to anyone that Magic Mike XXL probably won’t win any awards. It is at its heart a popcorn-movie, a fun and loud summer film to be enjoyed on a superficial level rather than intellectually debated. This is where the film succeeds, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and the dance routines are brilliant spectacles. The dances are regularly used to further the plot, highlighting the much stronger influence of musicals in this second outing for Magic Mike. The soundtrack is crammed full of songs perfectly suited to their respective scenes and features artists ranging from Nick Waterhouse to Backstreet Boys. The soundtrack adds to the ultimately feel-good atmosphere of this film. Much of the dark elements and drama from the first film have been replaced with tongue-in-cheek humour and happy endings. It’s not revolutionary but then it’s not trying to be. What Magic Mike XXL is trying to do is make the audience a little happier than they were before. It’s light-hearted and enjoyable, although perhaps only for a certain audience.