#REVIEW: “MAGIC MIKE XXL”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
They’re back! The uber-hunks with the rock-hard, washboard abs so defined you could grate Parmesan cheese on reunite on screen in MAGIC MIKE XXL, the sequel to the wildly successful and entertaining 2012 hit about the lives, loves and dreams of a bunch of ridiculously handsome working class guys who make a living as male strippers. While the original Movie, directed by Steven Soderbergh, was loosely based on Channing Tatum’s experience as an exotic dancer before hitting it big as an actor and movie star, this time around Mike (Tatum), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez) are on the road to Myrtle Beach to compete at a male strippers convention. Along the way, they get stoned on molly, work on new routines and characterizations, perform at a members-only establishment that cater to rich African-American ladies that is owned by a madam named Rome (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and spend an evening with a group of well-to-do aging Southern cougar-ish divorcees, whose ringleader Nancy (deliciously played by Andie MacDowell) has a bawdy outlook on life. There’s even romance in the air when Mike meets a cynical photographer named Zoe (Amber Heard) who conveniently seems to always show up at the right time.
There’s a lot to like about MAGIC MIKE XXL. Channing Tatum proves, once again, that he is an actor of subtlety and substance. Not only does he shine in the smaller dramatic scenes, I will say, unequivocally, that he is the most exciting and talented dancer on the big screen since Fred Astaire. In this Movie’s most inspiring scene, Mike is alone in his shop working on a piece of furniture when the music playing on the radio takes over his body and soul. It’s a brilliantly choreographed and performed routine. Joe Manganiello shows a genuine comic sensibility that surprised me. In a riotously funny scene, he tries to get a smile from a bored convenience store clerk while dancing using Doritos and bottled water as props. And, let’s face facts, Matt Bomer is just so unnaturally handsome that all he has to do is stand there and smile (though his attempt at singing a la Justin Timberlake is less than stellar).
What is missing in this Sequel is “magic”. The sweet sensitivity from the original is replaced with frat boy hijinks. Since this merry troupe of performers are now referring to themselves as “male entertainers” versus “strippers”, the dance routines are borderline-PG13 instead of sexy. You can see more male flesh at a Gay Pride parade than you will see in MAGIC MIKE XXL.
MAGIC MIKE XXL is critic-proof. We can bemoan the lack of a real plot and that so much of this Movie is filmed in darkness. But when Channing Tatum flashes his pearly whites, and his abs and his “cheeks” and dances while the music seeps gloriously from every sweaty cell in his body, all is forgiven!
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release MAGIC MIKE XXL, in theatres now!