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REVIEW: 'Magic Mike' Serves Up XXL Size Entertainment

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Magic Mike XXL is probably the most unnecessary movie of the 2015 summer season. Its existence alone is surprising, given the lukewarm reception of the previous film. The 2011 original promised its thirsty female (and gay) audience male stripper bliss, but got bogged down trying to tell an actual story.

Keeping that in mind, original script writer Reid Carolin and co-writer Channing Tatum decided to give the audience exactly what they want: plenty of hot action. Magic Mike XXL may have very little to say, but it’s also a damn good time, considering there’s no conflict, no story and no point. Photo: intouchweekly.com

The film starts off by tying up some loose ends from the first outing. Mike (Tatum) is still building his own business, dealing with the stress of supply and demand. The relationship with Brooke (Cody Horn), which was the central storyline during the previous movie, has fizzled. Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) has taken his brand overseas, and he’s taken ‘the kid’ (Alex Pettyfer) with him too.

Thus enters the remaining group of rock hard bodies, who contact Mike in the midst of a trip to South Carolina. The gang, comprised of beefy Richie (Joe Manganiello), pretty boy Ken (Matt Bomer) and of course gentle giant Tarzan (former wrestler Kevin Nash) are feeling defeated.  When they convince Mike to come along for one last hurrah at a big stripper convention, the film launches into a wild road trip with plenty of surprises.

Magic Mike XXL starts out pretty rocky. Early scenes are laden with improvised banter between the group, and it can be cringe worthy. The actors all had decent chemistry in the first film, but the cast has a bit more trouble getting back into the groove at first. Although the dialogue doesn’t improve, Magic Mike XXL is smarter than it appears.

Once things get going, the movie delivers one crowd-pleasing sequence after another. Although the male nudity is surprisingly scarce, XXL finds plenty of new ways to titillate and win over its target audience.  An over the top striptease to “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys? Check! How about a bondage tribute to Nine Inch Nail’s “Closer” that puts 50 Shades to shame? Done! Forget about those dated Fireman routines. This is the Chippendale revolution right here.

In between those high-octane set pieces, Magic Mike XXL also benefits from a terrific supporting cast. Jada Pinkett Smith shines as a sassy southern MC who takes the group under her wing. Andie McDowell, playing a sex-starved divorcee, almost walks away with the entire movie in her ten minutes of screen time. Even Elizabeth Banks gets to show off her comedic chops as the host of the climactic stripper convention.

The sold out theater was absolutely roaring by the end of Magic Mike XXL. This movie, unlike the misguided predecessor, has its eye on the glistening chiseled prize. Make sure to get some single bills at the concession stand; you may feel the urge to throw them at the screen.

 

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com

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Photo: intouchweekly.com