Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Magic Mike XXL

Channing Tatum returns on a strip-club road trip.

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Magic Mike
Warner Bros

The adventures of a troupe of male strippers once seemed the unlikeliest of subjects for a movie. But Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike was such a huge international hit three years ago (raking in $170-million on a budget of about $7-million) that a sequel was inevitable. And here it is. And it, too—despite some over-long production numbersis a one-of-a-kind winner.

Matthew McConaughey, the deliriously unhinged strip-club owner in the first film, is no longer onboard, which is too bad. But new director Gregory Jacobs, a longtime Soderbergh associate, working with script-writer Reid Carolin, compensates for his absence by opening up the story and adjusting its focus. Magic Mike XXL has a little more heart than the first movie, and a bit more on its mind.

Channing Tatum, the titular Magic Mike, remains the star, comical and touching; and, drawing again on his own stripper days, he's still a terrific dancer. But Tatum is a generous actor, and he leaves lots of room for the rest of the cast to shine, especially Joe Manganiello (of True Blood). The ensemble cast has a lively chemistry, but whenever Manganiello steps out with a tossed-off line or a startling dance move, he owns the movie.

The plot isn't much more than a clothesline for character filigree and, of course, super-charged stage routines. This time, Tatum and his reunited fellow dancers—Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, and Adam Rodriguez—are on their way from Tampa to a big stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, popping mollys and contemplating a new act as they go. This being a road movie, it's all about the stops they make en route. At a packed cocktail lounge called Mad Mary's, they befriend the transvestite owner and happily join in an uproarious dance competition. At a deluxe women-only pleasure dome in Savannah, they party with a crowd of club members showering cash on the loin-pumping male strippers in their midst (and cheering a smooth musical performance by Community star Donald Glover). And at a roadside convenience store, spotting a glum-looking woman at the cash register inside, Manganiello, challenged by his buddies to bring a smile to her face, struts in and—throwing all actorly dignity to the wind—improvises a wild, shirt-ripping dance routine that provides the movie's hilarious centerpiece.

What's most unusual about all of this is the movie's casually accepting approach to race and sexuality. Tatum and his fellow Kings of Tampa (as they're professionally known) are white (and, okay, light brown), but the supporting cast is largely black, and in many cases more than just background color. And while the Kings' career mission is to provide an evening's gratification to the cheering women arrayed before them, they devote special attention to the everyday, non-glamorous ladies who most appreciate it, rubbing jelly on their thighs and laying hands all over them. Jada Pinkett Smith plays Mike's onetime lover, who also has a past with a blonde convention official named Paris (Elizabeth Banks). And Andie MacDowell has a ball playing a middle-aged, wine-pouring divorcee celebrating her liberation from the bonds of matrimony. (She sees the stripper guys as an unexpected present.)

Soderbergh passed on directing, but he once again shot and edited the film, and his touch is everywhere apparent. The intricately cut dance numbers are sometimes spectacular, and when he dials down for a quiet beach-side interlude in which Mike and a woman in whom he's taken an interest (Amber Heard) simply talk to one another, Soderbergh animates the scene with inventive camera angles and off-beat lighting. The movie ends in a big finish at the stripper convention, but that's almost anticlimactic. It's the journey that stays with you.

NEXT: Why Marijuana Merchants Love Rand Paul

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  1. In lieu of links, enjoy some sausage.

    1. *warily eyes FoE* what kind of sausage?

    2. Here, you can have my link: http://insomniaclibertarian.bl…..ekend.html

  2. I get the day off for am links and this is how I’m treated? Don’t make me forget 7:01. I’ll do it.

  3. This actually beat the new Terminator movie at the North American box office on Wednesday. Pretty embarrassing.

    If a PG-13 Terminator movie can’t even beat an R-rated male stripper movie over the holiday weekend, maybe it’s time to stick a fork in the franchise. Or beg James Cameron to come back.

    1. Almost as bad, Inside Out barely lost to The Terminator and inside out is in its 2nd week of distribution.

      Interesting fact: Apparently Inside Out is the first Pixar movie not to open at #1 because it opened up against Jurassic world. It still made $60 million which must be some kind of record for the #2 movie in a weekend.

      1. I think Inside Out is starting its third week, released June 19.

        Pixar movies have something Hollywood has yet to discover; a story.

    2. They were both middling, but TG had better production values, which may be why its actors looked like they could afford soap and deodorant.

  4. NRC sees complicated path for NuScale SMR nuke design

    NuScale Power LLC is aiming to have the first federally certified design for a small modular nuclear reactor, and approving that design brings in some unprecedented technical issues that could complicate and lengthen the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review period, the staff of the federal agency recently said.

    And this is a big reason why nuclear innovation in the US has stalled out.

    1. IOW, the NRC doesn’t have anybody on staff who has the capability to comprehend the new design.

      So, the new design is dead unless and until the NRC actually hires some top-flight nuclear engineers.

    2. I used to work in a firm with a gal who was a recovering alcoholic and was a former NRC inspector. She claimed in the 80s and early 90s her team was doing cocaine etc. at every inspection.

      1. So like most government workers, then.

  5. There is no McConaughey in this one, therefore it is dead to me.

    1. And worse, no Alex Pettyfer. A broader menu in many respects than last time, but no veal.

  6. Am I going to see this movie?

    AB-solutely.

  7. Am I going to see this movie?

    AB-solutely.

    1. What did you say ?

  8. I used to be a traveling male stripper but then I got a arrow to the knee.

    1. I chuckled

  9. Gay.

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    1. Can’t I just strip instead?

  12. I don’t really get the appeal of sex comedies.

    The movie I want to see is Cartel Land

  13. Go see Love and Mercy. It’s the best movie out.

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  16. Went to see the movie with 9 of our girlfriends for her birthday. We all where very disappointed:( Ill start off with only 2 good senses we liked out of the whole long drawn out movie. The first sense with Channing was very very sexy and hot and the last sense with Joe M. brought it with his sense I want to Fu$!@ like an animal!!! Channing said he was going to bring it, but we where not impressed with his dance sense at the end of the movie. The movie was drawn out, way way to much talking. They where some senses we where expecting stuff to happen then disappointed with nothing but talking. One sense to be exact when they where at the house with all the older women, thought for sure some dancing and or stripping was going to happen and nothing but boaring talking. Thought that’s what the movie was supposed to be about, stripping!!! But we saw none of that until the end of the movie, but not even really then. Channing was very conservative in this movie which should not of been made if going to be that way. We where all told it was going to be better than the first Majic Mike and Channing was brining it, seriously disappointed and was never brought Channing. Thumbs down for this movie and from all of our friends agree thumbs down!!!

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