James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
Cole Clay // Film Critic
Congrats, America. With the release of MAGIC MIKE XXL, we now have yet another franchise that has found its place in our culture. This latest eruption of man candy will once again take our nation by storm. If that doesn’t scream “AMERICA,” I don’t know what does.
As a male, I find it undeniably humorous to see so many dudes scoff at the mere mention of seeing star Channing Tatum’s second dip into the world of “male entertainment.” Men tend to get uncomfortable when the male figure gets objectified. That very reaction is what I can only imagine how many women feel when they see trailers to… I don’t know… about 95% of theatrical releases?
Three years have passed since Magic Mike (Tatum) left the stripper game, but his compadres known as “The Kings of Tampa” pull him back in by the banana hammock for one last ride down to Myrtle Beach for some random stripper convention (Just think of PITCH PERFECT, but with bulges and a lot more leather.) MAGIC MIKE XXL is the sex-fueled crowd-pleaser that audiences wanted when the first film ended up being a bait and switch (Let’s go on record by saying that MAGIC MIKE is the superior movie of the series).
The plot is loosely structured around the exploits of the aforementioned Mike, Big Dick Richie (Joe Maganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and DJ turned MC Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias). DISCLAIMER: Matthew McConaughey, nor his ass-less chaps make an appearance in this film.
This is a much bigger sequel that lives up to its XXL moniker. With larger dance sequences and a tour of the balmy south. Each of the “Kings” get their moment to shine in personalized scenes. On the way we meet a laundry list of debutantes, housewives and club goers that fall under the incantations of Magic Mike and Co. It’s not a forced bit of charm either; it’s the kind of atmosphere that allows its audience to be present and have a full experience (Make sure to see this with a crowd if possible).
Sex is a power tool that MAGIC MIKE XXL operates with ease. Director Gregory Jacobs (Jacobs served as the assistant director on the first film) toys with the silliness of male strippers by pandering to his audiences’ most carnal desires. I say all this with a smile and a wink because this may be one of the sharpest (and funniest) satires of the year. There’s just something charming about the earnest tone of the film. Not many mainstream films have the courage to own up to their own faults and contrivances.
The best asset to this film is its ability to inflate and deflate the sexual tension with genuinely funny comedic beats. Tatum and the cast revel in the absurdity with comedic timing that works well in isolated incidents and as a group. XXL isn’t worried about tying up plot lines, but when it’s all said and done, all they needed was a thong and dance floor. Everything else is just background noise.
It’s surprising, but MAGIC MIKE XXL is a sex-positive comedy that actually invites the audience to talk about sex in a productive and provocative fashion. A central element to the narrative is when the guys switch up their routines last minute to accentuate their respective personalities that pays off in a big way. And that’s the big takeaway here– it’s an effortless exercise in owning the moment, no matter how fleeting it may be.
MAGIC MIKE XXL opens today at 7 p.m. in participating theaters, and everywhere tomorrow (7/1)