A Raunchy Bro-Down: A Review of ‘Magic Mike XXL’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 02, 2015
A Raunchy Bro-Down: A Review of ‘Magic Mike XXL’

Quite often, things can be exactly what you expect of them…or they can be something completely different.  While Magic Mike XXL is quite honestly a mess of a film, it is also a disarmingly charming bromance between a bunch of guys who are simply looking for a way to matter in this universe in some way shape or form and grab a hold of something (no pun intended), anything that gives them purpose.  It is the male bonding experience wrapped in a swath of glitter, sleaze and dollar bills.

It’s been years, three to be exact since Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) got out of the stripper game that was slowly killing his chances at a normal life.  He left at the top and is now doing a booming business in his custom furniture trade, but something is missing.  His girl left him and his working 24/7 as his own boss only making incremental gains along the way.  Then comes a phone call, from his old buddies as The Kings of Tampa, their old leader, Dallas has up and left and the boys want to do one last hurrah, going out as they call it in a Tsunami of dollar bills at the stripper convention in Myrtle Beach.  However they are going to need some help, as Mike decides that in order to get his groove back in life, he needs to ride that pony with the only guys he’s ever been able to call friends one last time.

Magic Mike XXL

Bare with me for just one second, as I am one of those crazy people who has a certain amount of love for Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 cult gem, Showgirls and in many ways Magic Mike XXL is that kind of movie as the gender roles get reversed and we ultimately get a softer, but still very naked story of camaraderie, brotherhood and good old fashion raunchy fun.

Long time first assistant director for Steven Soderbergh, Gregory Jacobs slides into the center seat for this one while Soderbergh slide into an executive producer role and actually served as the director of photography.  While it is awash in your atypical visual Soderbergh style, the narrative looses morphs anywhere from a buddy comedy bromance between all of these guys as they reconnect after all these years, a competition type of film as they look to reclaim former glory and flat out sexual satire that both rings true and can generate some crazy levels of laughter at the same time.  It is never 100% sure what it wants to be and that causes some moments to drag but it manages to evoke some genuinely poignant ones too, because while Mike is obviously the least sad of all these characters, these are all guys going through a 1/3-midlife crisis kind of patch as they see the end of the road for their days as “Adult Entertainers”.  However have no fear as it keeps it mostly light, leaning into the motif of “Getting The Band Back Together” reasonable well, despite some unnecessarily uneven performances.10.02_ 0499.tiff

At this stage of the game, Channing Tatum has to be holding the crown as perhaps the most savvy actor in Hollywood.  Much like Harrison Ford did back in the day, Tatum manages that dangerous combo of talent and unmistakable cool.  He can carry anything in his sleep and is a consummate entertainer and plays to woman and men alike because he makes us believe in the character that he is playing.  Sadly they tried to give the rest of the dancers some story background and character development, it worked pretty well for Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Ritchie acknowledging that he is getting a little long in the tooth and in spite of all of the women that he has been with, just wants to find one to love while still getting to poke fun at some of the other work that he has done on True Blood.  Kevin Nash, Matt Bomer, Gabriel Iglesias and Adam Rodriguez all return but their side stories end up falling a little flat while Amber Heard as they new sassy love interest feels forced.  Michael “Twitch” Boss, Micheal Strahan and Donald Glover (yes, that Donald Glover of “Community” and “Childish Gambino” fame) join up as dancers while Jada Pinkett Smith manages to chew the scenery as MC and former love interest of Mike while the always great Elizabeth Banks gets wasted on a cameo.

While I know he didn’t actually direct it, this counts in the Soderbergh canon as it is something he has never really tried before.  It’s a satiric comment on the male experience, where these guys are simply incapable of being genuinely happy with themselves, and this journey with these guys and a final performance that has to be seen to be believed is a cathartic but messy bit of fun.  Much like the characters in the film, everyone involved with Magic Mike XXL got back on board this train because they could and as much as the advertising screams it is for the ladies (and the gay men) this is such a bro movie that you just have to run with it.  The best advice that I can give audiences everywhere,  is that this is by no means a well structured or even good film as the narrative takes us to random situation after situation with the guys on the road…but it is a hell of a lot of fun and while the ladies are screaming for Channing a small part of you will embrace your inner bro, and that’s all these guys are looking to do.

MagMikeXXL

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.