A movie review of “Magic Mike XXL”: This lightweight, cheerful sequel delivers the hip-swivelling goods. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
Early on in “Magic Mike XXL,” a movie that is exactly what you expect it might be but with less nudity (sorry, thought I’d better get that out of the way), Mike (Channing Tatum) performs an irresistible welding moonwalk. He is now, as he dreamed of being back in the innocent days of “Magic Mike,” a designer of fairly hideous-looking furniture, and he’s busily welding something (shades of “Flashdance”!) in his studio. Suddenly, he hears music — Ginuwine’s “Pony,” a callback to the earlier film — and dance he must, in slithery, snake-hipped fashion, like he’s just been freshly oiled. A mere mortal welder would not do this (wouldn’t his pants catch on fire? Isn’t this some sort of violation of welding safety code?), but Mike, as we know, is magic.
Tatum’s blocky, slow-simmering charm, not to mention a variety of tight tank tops, holds together this lightweight, cheerful sequel, which centers on the stripper equivalent of a heist cliché — this is, for Mike and his Kings of Tampa exotic-dancing buddies, the Last Big Job. The gang — which also includes Ken (Matt Bomer), Richie Whose Nickname I Can’t Put In the Paper (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and genial MC Tobias (Gabriel Eglesias) — is hitting the road for one last show together, in Myrtle Beach, and the movie’s essentially a loose string of vignettes, culminating in a bethonged finale.
Along the way, there’s mild panic about creating new routines, a far-too-brief look at a “Twilight”-themed strip number (please, let this be a real thing), and an agreeable dalliance for Richie, with a raunchily tipsy Southern belle (Andie MacDowell, clearly having a blast). We hear road conversations on topics important to “male entertainers” (don’t call them strippers), such as the Backstreet Boys and tweezing, and we learn that Mike’s girlfriend from the first movie ditched him, despite a proposal that involved “bacon and mimosas and pancakes.” (Seriously: Tatum’s mumbling winsomeness combined with bacon and mimosas and pancakes, in that order? Is she human?)
Movie Review ★★½
‘Magic Mike XXL,’ with Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez, Gabriel Iglesias, Amber Heard, Donald Glover, Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss, Michael Strahan, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks, Jada Pinkett Smith. Directed by Gregory Jacobs, from a screenplay by Reid Carolin. 115 minutes. Rated R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use. Several theaters.
Though director Gregory Jacobs doesn’t quite control the occasionally sluggish pace, “Magic Mike XXL” delivers the hip-swivelling goods, and tosses in a bit of female empowerment in the form of slinky club owner Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith, also seemingly having an awfully good time). You miss Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas, whose smile brought tawdry sunshine to the first film; he’s frequently mentioned here, but never shows up. But Tatum’s dancing (at one point, he exits a room doing a head roll and a suave little twirl) keeps things bright. Somebody needs to cast this guy in a musical — he’d be magic.
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