Movie Review – Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Director: Gregory Jacobs

Stars: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello,  Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Donald Glover, Elizabeth Banks and Jada Pinkett-Smith

It’s been a few years since Magic Mike (Tatum) left the stage. His business struggles along, but it’s arduous, so when he gets a call from Tarzan (Nash) saying that Dallas (Matthew McConaughey from the previous film) has gone, Mike rushes over for the wake. But what he finds is an abandoned crew with no leader looking for one last ride. It’s Magic Mike: Fast & Furious XXL 7.

I wasn’t a massive fan of the first film. I thought it took itself far too seriously, and this seemed like a cheap cash-in so I wasn’t too hopeful about it but I thought I’d do my service as a film reviewer and go and see it. I ended up going with five girls. Guess who was the only one to enjoy it? Yep, yours truly.

Now, I think considering the themes and the actual story, the first film is technically a better film, but this one is far more entertaining. There are flaws, which I’ll get to in a minute, but it has a fun, playful energy about it that I found infectious. Some of the choreography I found astounding, and I view it in much the same way as, say, the Step Up films where the main spectacle is the dance routines.

The story is very shallow and there’s not much of a narrative arc. They’re travelling to a stripping convention, but it’s not like there’s even a competition or anything. The film brushes away Dallas and The Kid in one line, and there’s not really any follow-on to the sequel. It also does one thing I hate, where in the first film there’s a lot of attention put onto a romance between two characters, yet in the next film it’s abandoned quickly.

But from an early scene where Tatum is welding he breaks the fourth wall a little and smiles at the camera, and I knew that it was going to be a bit cheekier and wink at the audience. Some of the scenes are completely ridiculous and over the top, but I found myself grinning with amusement and laughing with the film rather than at it, although the girls I went with found it entirely cringeworthy and bad.

Aside from the fun factor though, there is another reason why I liked it. There’s a theme here of people wanting to break out of their niche to have a legitimate career and life, because they all know that this isn’t going to last forever. And yet they know that it’s not as simple as that because the world is a cruel, hard place, and even Mike, who broke out of the business, hasn’t progressed in the three years. But instead of lamenting and grumbling about their fate, they fulfil their existential purpose and give themselves to this life. There’s a telling scene in which Tatum literally drowns in money and women, yet there’s an undercurrent of sadness in his expression.

I found this to be personally relevant. I’m a full-time writer, a dream job, right? Well, except for the fact that I make my money ghostwriting erotica. I’d much rather be writing my own stuff, and writing erotica all the time does get a little repetitive, but it’s what I’m good at, it’s my niche, and I am successful at it. So I felt a kinship with these dancers.

Judging from the reactions of the people I went with, and the general reviews it’s been getting, most people aren’t enjoying Magic Mike XXL, but I did. It certainly has its flaws but it’s fun, light-hearted, and I had a good time watching it.


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