Jan 18, 2016

[Movies] Magic Mike XXL (2015)

The first Magic Mike movie was, well, memorable but not exactly amazing. They had a concept and they certainly ran with it but it really had a paper thin plot that would make some pornographic movies seem almost intellectual. But of course we don't exactly watch such movies for the richness of the plot.

But then they decided to put together a sequel in the form of Magic Mike XXL, although I have no idea why they decided to go in the direction they ended up. As much as many of the primary (shirtless) cast came back for this movie, it's not like it had a really solid base to build on.

Let's face it, this was a movie franchise that started with a rather shallow story hook and was somewhat successful. But then the folks behind the movie decided to stretch things a bit and create a sequel and they ran out of runway pretty quickly. This movie starts with even less of a plot than the first movie had and it almost felt like there were less performance numbers - or the ones that were still in the movie just weren't quite as fun as we'd have liked them to be.

Synopsis: Magic Mike XXL is a comedy and somewhat of a drama movie directed by Gregory Jacobs. The screenplay was written by Reid Carolyn.

It has been three years since the events of the first movie and Mike (Channing Tatum) is running his own furniture business and is out of the stripper life. But a surprise call from Tarzan (Kevin Nash) leads to him joining some of the old crew who are determined to go out with a bang now that Dallas has seemingly abandoned them for a new crew. Their goal is to travel to some stripping convention at Myrtle Beach and put on one final show that will help them all be remembered forever.

So yeah, that's the core plot hook. Mike already has a great life but then decides to leave his business and comfortable life behind on almost a whim. That...just didn't make much sense. It's the sort of writing that is thrown into to badly justify how a sequel should logically come to be. On top of everything, they decided to make the whole thing a road trip narrative as well - and we totally want to see a group of strippers cramped into a small vehicle as they travel across the country.

The first movie sort of celebrated the spectacle of the stripping world and how they put on cheesy costumes and dance to silly routines. This movie had them wanting to do something different and somehow create numbers that were more themselves and honest. But the end result at the end of the movie still felt like the sort of silly stuff that already made up the first movie. So...what changed there?

Channing Tatum can dance, there's no doubt about that. And this movie does its best to make the most of that. The rest of the crew are still physically impressive with their own set of moves, even if those moves may or may not be actual dancing come performance time. But then you have odd decisions like how the first time we see the strippers dance again in a semi-group setting involves some drunken vogue-ing during one of their rest stops during the road trip.

Then you get weird cameos like the mid-movie inclusion of Jada Pinkett Smith as the groups new emcee (and yeah, I totally buy how essential this role is to the group. Totally.) Then we also have Donald Glover as some club-related rapper/singer with some effects at stripping that just leave me a little confused. But hey, the singing was fun, at least.

The movie is touted as a comedy but it really isn't all that funny. The movie also can have some claim to fame as a drama, but it's not like there's a true conflict here to really push some dramatic acting and expression. And it also has an odd selection of music that is sometimes potentially sexy but other times somehow discordant.

Magic Mike XXL is your textbook case of another studio determined sequel that really didn't have much of a soul to it. And since the big numbers weren't all that big nor even that fun, all the more the movie failed even those shallow expectations. And so the movie only really gets 2 oily dancing strippers out of a possible 5.


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