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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Magic Mike XXL | Channing Tatum, Jada Pinkett Smith, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Magic Mike XXL | Channing Tatum, Jada Pinkett Smith, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell | Review

Loose hips make tips.

But that’s not the reason that Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) now a furniture maker, travels back to his old Florida stomping ground after a phone call alerts him to the death of former mentor Dallas (Matthew McConaughey in the first film, absent here).  

Mike arrives for the “funeral” and is immediately accosted by a wild, helmet-wearing bikini chick jumping into a pool amidst a noisy, booze-soaked party crowd. The business suit-wearing Mike doesn’t stay dry for long.

Turns out, the death was faked to lure Mike on an aging fratboy road trip with former Kings of Tampa dance buddies Richie (Joe Manganiello) Tarzan (Kevin Nash) Ken (Matt Bomer) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez). Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) drives the frozen yogurt truck that transports everyone to Jacksonville, FL, Savannah, GA, and ultimately, Myrtle Beach, SC.

It’s been three years, more than 1000 days since Mike traded performances for power tools and planers.  He doesn’t need much prodding to start prodding again.
The gang’s loosely strung-together adventures plant them on a beach, a drag bar, a private estate, and Domina, a mansion-like male strip club owned and operated by Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith) Mike’s former employer and probably much more, although that stays largely unexplored.  After witnessing several of Rome’s performers heat up the clientele, Mike gets a chance to show that he can manipulate more than cabinets and countertops.

Mike’s relationship, if you can call it that, with Zoe (Amber Heard), a girl he met on a Florida beach, is only two conversations long.  He meets her again - small world, ain’t it? - after the guys crash a Savannah estate owned by a horny divorcee (Andie MacDowell) and several of her wealthy middle-aged friends.

Mike’s dance divos feel right at home amid the women and the wine while Mike and Zoe talk aimlessly in the kitchen as she forks chunks of red velvet cake into her mouth.  That’s as far as it goes.  Richie and the lady of the house go much further after a night of flirtatious carousing.  No stereotypes there.

Mike’s relationship with Rome ultimately finds him and the gang at a strippers competition/convention where all of the guys (and some of hers) get to strut their stuff while the uber-vampy Rome emcees with an exaggerated bluster and calculated innuendo that smacks of entrepreneurship over empowerment.  Elizabeth Banks cameos as convention organizer Paris.

Dollar bills cover every surface that the guys undulate in around and on top of.  Trousers are routinely ripped off in one swift motion and pelvises rock to and fro, frequently inches from an embarrassed but erotically excited female’s face. Other ladies scream, swoon, and are molded into consensual set pieces for the penile-centered performances.  No nudity, mind you, just lots of almost-action, separated by thin layers of denim, rayon, or deceptively virginal cotton.

Tatum’s got the moves and the following.  When Mike’s theme song (Ginuwine’s Pony) plays during a furniture making stint, he shamelessly uses a drill (without even buying it dinner first) to show that he’s still got it, and can barely keep it in his pants.  

Studly Augustus (Michael Strahan) has a small role, but you’ll see a lot of him during his time onscreen.  Ditto tWitch as Malik (Stephen Boss) who, along with Mike, does a mirror image act that thrills two ladies at once.  

Bomer is the pretty boy and Manganiello is the towering six-pack who can literally put some unsuspecting woman’s ass in a sling with his mojo.  Donald Glover gets a strut or two, plus the chance to sing.

Director Gregory Jacobs (Criminal) almost lets his ensemble cast direct him, with a screenplay co-written by Reid Carolin (Magic Mike) and leading man Tatum that puts MM front and center and just short of full frontal.  The easy camaraderie injects the road trip with snarky fun, but also a vacuous hedonism with no real message.  

Executive Producer Steven Soderbergh doubles as the cinematographer under the pseudonym Peter Andrews, something he’s done several times before.

There is definitely an audience for this type of film, and it will probably rake in the $ in considerably higher denominations than singles.  It breaks no new ground; it is not for everyone.  It just should have been more than what it settled for.

And that’s the (near) naked truth.

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