Magic Mike XXL

 

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There’s little narrative muscle in this box-ticking sequel but it’s still a crowd pleaser.

 

Magic Mike XXL

Flashdancing: Channing Tatum (centre)

 

You could scribble the plot for Magic Mike XXL on the back of a jockstrap, but it’s not about the plot. It’s about the ripple of sinew, the flash of glutes and the pump of the volume. With Steven Soderbergh, director of the original Magic Mike (2012), stepping in as executive producer, cinematographer and editor, the directorial reins are now taken up by Gregory Jacobs. Mike himself, played again by Channing Tatum, has built himself a business making furniture and is attempting to lead a grown-up life. Then he’s told of the death of an old co-stripper, a ruse to reunite him with the testosterone-spilling lugs that make up the “male entertainers” calling themselves the Kings of Tampa. And so Mike is talked into one last show at a stripping convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. First, though, they have to get there from Tampa, Florida...

 

On the way, there's a lot of bickering and horseplay, much of which tries the patience. These seem like superficial, rather uninteresting guys, although Matt Bomer has a cute smile and a nifty way with reiki. The shadow of the absent Matthew McConaughey looms large and one craves a certain drama or unexpected plot development. However, what we get is a series of stop-overs and a few rather striking moves, enabling Tatum to channel Jennifer Beals in his workshop (remember Flashdance?) and for Joe Manganiello to (almost) steal the film in an improvised routine in a convenience store (in the hope of eliciting a smile from the shop’s po-faced female employee). Then, slowly, the film gathers momentum, is peppered with feisty turns from its female co-stars (Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks and Jada Pinkett Smith all win brownie points) and generates a feel-good frenzy by the closing curtain.

 

The six-packs certainly pack a punch and the moves move along nicely (choreography is credited to Alison Faulk). To be sure, Channing Tatum is something of a marvel in this accomplished, box-ticking, crowd-pleasing Showboys.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodríguez, Gabriel Iglesias, Amber Heard, Donald Glover, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks, Jada Pinkett Smith.

 

Dir Gregory Jacobs, Pro Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum and Nick Wechsler, Screenplay Reid Carolin, Ph Peter Andrews (aka Steven Soderbergh), Pro Des Howard Cummings, Ed Mary Ann Bernard (aka Steven Soderbergh), Music Steven Phillips and Jack Rayner, Costumes Christopher Peterson.

 

Iron Horse Entertainment/RatPac-Dune Entertainment-Warner Bros.

115 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 3 July 2015. Cert. 15.