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  Magic Mike XXL Men Only
Year: 2015
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Stars: Channing Tatum, Adam Rodriguez, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Amber Heard, Gabriel Iglesias, Donald Glover, Elizabeth Banks, Andie MacDowell, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Stephen Boss, Kimberley Drummond, Michael Strahan
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mike (Channing Tatum) used to be Magic Mike, a male stripper who made quite a tidy living taking his clothes off for women in clubs, but he's decided to put all that behind him and set up his own company away from the lower level of showbusiness he was operating on. But one day he receives a call from one of his old buddies on the scene to tell him their old boss has died, and he should head out to Florida for the wake to pay tribute. Mike is shocked, and puts on his black suit and tie then drives over, only to find a pool party in full swing. Turns out the boss isn't dead at all, he's just moved to Europe, but now Mike is here, how about they get the gang back together and hit the road doing shows?

Magic Mike, the first movie, might not have been a massive blockbuster, but it did fairly well thanks to its promise of toned male flesh the audience were invited to ogle in a manner usually reserved for toned female flesh. Not everyone was enamoured of it, but there was no doubt it delivered on the stripping front, and it turned out to be what its director Steven Soderbergh claimed would be his final film as director, though when this sequel arrived the fact he was not only executive producer but pseudonymous editor and cinematographer as well, with prolific second unit director Gregory Jacobs ostensibly handling the directorial duties, made many suspicious Soderbergh couldn't stay away for long.

Whatever he was up to on the set, and maybe he was having some kind of private joke all to himself, who knew, there was certainly a more muted tone to this when it wasn't staging the strip acts. There were even complaints about those, as audiences felt it was all very well attracting the punters with the promise of male nudity, but when nobody really took that much off other than their shirts until the last twenty minutes when the major show is going on, and even then the lighting tended to be on the gloomier side, they felt they were being duped. If that didn't bother you so much, then there were however interesting things Magic Mike XXL seemed to be saying, though as a comedy it wasn't that funny.

Was it a comedy anyway? There were a load of soul-searching conversations to be listened to here as Mike and his band of not-so-merry men go on a road trip around the American south and try to find themselves, recognising they are not getting any younger, they still have not managed to settle down with the right partner, and life has not worked out the way they would have hoped, certainly by this point when they wanted stability. But the thing was, that's what the women they meet along the way are thinking too, only the strippers can offer a fantasy version of the men the women would want, but there are no fantasy women for the men to satisfy their dreams, got that? Which naturally leaves the strippers feeling rather hollow inside, entertaining, providing a service, but without reciprocation.

You wonder if the strippers really wanted to settle down with any of these women they amuse since they are well aware it's all a sham, really, but by the end the film has come to terms with that and accepted the division between what you want out of life and what you get is always going to be a hurdle to get over, especially as aspirant pop culture serves to emphasise that sense of always wanting more, a better existence and all the trappings that go with it without acknowledging that setting your sights that high will inevitably lead to disappointment by and by, even on the offchance that you achieve your goals. So that's what Magic Mike XXL was actually about, presented as a modern day musical which meant the numbers were sexualised and Channing Tatum didn't sing as he danced, yet focusing on the general dissatisfaction that drives people to pursue their fantasies when reality fails to measure up. All very well, but a lot of ladies (and some gentlemen) wanted to see more bottoms.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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