In brief… so to speak… Magic Mike XXL is pure guy candy – a sort of Hangover with male strippers. Unlike the 2012 surprise hit, the sequel doesn’t take a dark turn. It stays fairly fun throughout – despite having virtually zero plot, and dialogue so cheesy you may need to stock up on Lactaid. But c’mon, what did you expect? Have you SEEN the trailer?! (Scroll down. You’re welcome.)
XXL picks up the story three years after stripper extraordinaire Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) leaves his beefy ‘Kings of Tampa’ stage buddies to pursue his true passion – making furniture. Life isn’t going quite according to plan. Business is slow. His girlfriend has bolted (for some inexplicable reason). And Mike is feeling kinda sorry for himself. And then: his buddies show up to lure Mike back in the fold for one last hurrah at a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach. And off they go! They make a few stops along the way, learn some new moves, shake off some demons, get involved in various mishaps, and um, dance – a lot – for an interesting array of women.
Most of the familiar faces – and other body parts – are back: Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Richie, wrestling star Kevin Nash as Tarzan, Matt Bomer as the meditative yogi stripper Ken, and Adam Rodriguez as Tito. Matthew McConaughey’s character Dallas is MIA from this one. He’s taken ‘The Kid’ that Mike mentored in the first movie and started an act in Macau. Dallas’s departure leaves the group without an emcee – a must-have for anyone hoping to perform at the convention. Oh no! What are they going to do? Luckily, Mike has the perfect replacement in mind: a former boss/flame named Rome, played by Jada Pinkett Smith. She runs a sultry entertainment palace for women – a sort of Ringling Bros. circus for strippers and the women who love them, or at least throw money at them. It’s not clear exactly why, but Rome takes the gig. And the guys take the stage. And they’re all pretty darn hot.
The movie is rated R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use. I probably should have watched the original again for “research” purposes, because I don’t recall the dance moves being quite so overtly sexual in the first one. Let’s just say – if Christian Grey kept scraps of his clothes on and took to the dance floor, he could probably join the group. Anyway, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should anyone who opts to see it. There’s a very funny scene in a gas station convenience store that is pure gold, and enough eye candy to induce a two-hour sugar coma. Beyond that – it’s forgettable fun, best watched after a couple of cocktails with friends.