Magic Mike ditches any semblance of social commentary for the feel-good body-roll romp of XXL. Like Easy Rider without all the LSD, Magic Mike XXL is essentially a shaggy dog of a road trip movie. The point isn't so much where they're going as how they get there and the things they learn about themselves along the way.
There is, of course, an exceptionally vague plot that requires Mike (Channing Tatum) to return to the sweaty, glittery bosom of his former Kings of Tampa bros for one last big blowout. Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) and Adam "The Kid" (Alex Pettyfer) took their bad attitudes abroad, but the Kings want to go out on their own terms. Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Ken (Matt Bomer), and Tito (Adam Rodriguez) convince Mike to join them on a road trip to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, but honestly, that's beside the point. There's a vague love object in Amber Heard, who plays a would-be photographer armed with what looks like a CoolPix. Never mind her. She is there to trade off-the-cuff zings with Mike about their drag queen names and the merits of red velvet cake over cookies.
My only real complaint, other than some pacing issues, is that some scenes looked dark and muddy. Steven Soderbergh's typical cinematography and lighting style doesn't do any favors to people of varying skin tones. That's a considerable problem, given that MMXXL went out of its way to feature an entire club catering to women of color, with gorgeous dancers like Stephen "tWitch" Boss getting lost in the murkiness.
Like its journeyman star Channing Tatum, there's something so weirdly sweet and earnest about Magic Mike XXL that you wonder if they're making fun of the audience. In the end, does it even matter?
Jenni Miller is the Sex Files editor, and a frequent freelance contributor to BUST. Follow her on Twitter @msjennimiller.
Photos courtesy Warner Bros.
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Magic Mike: America's Bachelorette Party
Channing & Channing: Best Show Idea Ever Or Best Show Idea Ever?
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Jenni Miller is the movies editor for BUST. You can find her on Twitter @msjennimiller