Matt Bomer arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Magic Mike XXL” at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Thursday, June 25, 2015. In place of moral quandaries, “XXL” gives us goofballs in thongs. Depending how much one asks of the movie, it’s either a sturdy finish or more of the same. Pay no attention to any Tampa or other Florida locales represented in Magic Mike XXL.
Sorry McConaugholics. The swaggering emcee Dallas does not make an appearance in “XXL”. Dialogue is given to explain why key people from the original film (played by Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, and Alex Pettyfer) are not present in the sequel.
Channing Tatum is still around given that he’s the title character. Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) is there to be the MC/driver/general friend.
Richie (Joe Manganiello, who returns as the group’s true “XXL” member, now in an expanded role) never wanted to be a fireman, though he’s been kindling desire as one for years.
Like everything else in “Magic Mike XXL,” Tatum’s nominal love interest, a New York-bound photographer played by the supremely blase Amber Heard, comes with a take-me-or-leave-me air that’s sort of winning. After the Kid misplaced a stash he was supposed to sell, Mike had to come to the rescue by draining his savings to pay off some unsafe guys. I thought the ladies behind me were going to make it rain with dollar bills during one of the film’s – ahem – climactic dance numbers. All those backflips, grinds and spins were all his moves. Within the opening minutes, several pals from Mike’s ex- ensemble the Kings of Tampa show up at his modest furniture shop to cajole him into joining them for one last romp at a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach. The supporting cast, notably Manganiello and Nash, make the most of every moment they get. That being said, this convention is hardly high stakes. Both of those films got sequels. Picking up shortly after Magic Mike concluded, the sequel finds Mike (Channing Tatum) struggling to get his carpentry business off the ground when a phone call summons him back to Floridas Gulf Coast. But the movie feels nearly entirely ad-libbed, and not in a graceful way. What about the guys who slip out of their super suits to entertain? In musicals, it’s both illogical and delightful to see two people randomly break into song. But all it takes is hearing his signature jam, “Pony,” on Spotify to trigger his exhibitionistic instincts, and he braves splinters and sparks as he turns his garage workshop into an impromptu stage.
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For Subscribers: Sign in here if you have already registered your account. But the guys aren’t afraid to hang out at gay bars or sing the praises of women. Where Richard Donners Superman once inspired us to believe that a man can fly, Magic Mike XXL convinces us beyond a shadow of a doubt that a dancer can leave the stage behind and open an ice cream truck that has a DJ booth attached – entertaining the masses and satisfying their sweet tooth at the same time. The women are various ethnicities, shapes and sizes.
Meanwhile, the big message of the movie is that we should all be following our bliss. And there’s no reason Tito’s frozen-yogurt dreams can’t also fuel audiences’ fantasies as well. At least, that’s what it looks like. Andie MacDowell (of Soderbergh’s 1989 hit “sex, lies, and videotape“) seems miscast as an undersexed Southern belle.
And then there’s the final shot of “XXL”. The stilted dialogue is no substitute. The giddy chatter of movie-goers was almost deafening after a recent screening. This is just one of the facts packed into the latest episode of You Think You Know Movies, which backs up on ya with Magic Mike.