- RatedM18 /GenreComedy
Who would have thought three years ago that a movie about male strippers – and one relying heavily on Channing Tatum’s raw magnetism – could be a critical, box office success?
The “male entertainers” known as the Kings of Tampa were a sensation in 2012, and so the natural course of action would be to ramp up on that US$167 million dollar success and build one of the biggest stripteases we will ever see.
No surprises, then, that when it comes to the action on stage, this sequel delivers on its “XXL” promise. Mostly.
Too bad it wastes too much time on a testosterone-filled road trip that, let’s be real, none of the screaming fans are going to be flinging wads of cash at.
GOING OFF IN STYLE
Channing Tatum still has the moves | Photo: Warner Bros
Years after Mike (Channing Tatum) throws in the towel and men thongs for a less raunchy career, the remaining Kings of Tampa decide to follow suit after their boss abandons them for greener pastures.
Reality however bites and with his furniture business barely staying afloat, Mike reunites with his fellow strippers for one final performance.
Along the way, Mike inspires the Kings to choreograph new material instead of reusing the same routine, leading the Kings to reflect on their individual dreams and personalities for inspiration. As they prepare for the biggest stage of their career at a Georgia stripper convention, Mike ropes in an emcee (Jada Pinkett Smith), singer (Donald Glover) and dancer (Stephen 'tWitch' Boss) to provide that extra punch to help the Kings bow out in style.
MORE: Turning up the heat: Director Gregory Jacobs talks 'Magic Mike XXL'
We paid for a star-studded striptease, and ‘Magic Mike XXL’ delivers on that front. Whenever the physically sculpted cast starts peeling away their clothes and rocking their pelvis, the movie soars and the temperature follows.
Paced similarly to a striptease, the movie start out comparatively tame, teasing the audience with performances, as the film builds up so does the onstage intensity, slowly but surely till it reaches a screaming climax in the grand finale.
And ladies and gentlemen, that finale makes all the wait worthwhile. Creatively choreographed and well put together, the Kings’ final performance is as artistically entertaining as it is erotic, and gets all the screen time it deserves. Suffice it to say that after being thrilled by this final treat, the first ‘Magic Mike’ movie actually becomes less entertaining to watch.
But where everything else is concerned, ‘Magic Mike XXL’ is everything its predecessor was not, in a good and bad way.
DRAGGY BUT FUN
Yup, still got it | Photo: Warner Bros
With previous characters like the Kid (Alex Pettyfer) and Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) out of the picture, ‘XXL’ is able to give the spotlight to the remaining Kings of Tampa. It now feels like a shame that these characters were barely explored three years ago, because they individually and collectively prove to be much more entertaining than the sulky protégé that was Pettyfer’s lead character.
Joe Manganiello’s Big Dick Richie exudes a boyish charm that slowly reveals a sweet side. Former WWE wrestler Kevin Nash’s Tarzan is physically intimidating but a softie at heart. Cliche but entertaining – even if predictable – characterisations that allow the Kings to be such enjoyable company.
For Manganiello and Nash, humour flows naturally, which makes ‘XXL’ much more light-hearted than its predecessor. Even without the the serious undertones of the first movie, ‘XXL’ is just as insightful and achieves its own brand of entertainment.
But these humorous moments are barely enough to keep the movie alive during its offstage moments. It feels like ‘XXL’ relishes in the foreplay of making us wait for the action, as it drags us through a series of long and chatty sequences. These are made worse by a plot that sometimes feels directionless.
With its uneven pacing, it is very easy to get restless during a sizeable portion of the movie, especially at the beginning. But unlike its predecessor, ‘XXL’ ends off with such a bang that compensates for all the other shortcomings.
After all, great things are always worth the wait. A great striptease, even more so.
'Magic Mike XXL' opens 9 July