Movie Review: Magic Mike XXL

I reviewed the first Magic Mike back in June 2012, about three years ago now, and I remember being a little dissatisfied with it - it was a little more depressing than I thought it would be, even though the stripping parts were fun. In Magic Mike XXL, which really should be called something like Magic Mike 2: Road Trip, these parts are minimal, and it's a fun ride that I enjoyed much more than its counterpart film.

Mike (Channing Tatum) has been out of the stripping business for the past three years, choosing to focus on his furniture business, but when one of the guys gives him a call to say they're visiting Tampa, he goes to hang out with his buddies. Dallas (Matthew McConaughey from the first movie, who doesn't appear in this one) has moved his show to Macau, but the boys are headed to the national stripper convention in Myrtle Beach for one last good time. Mike decides to go with them, and they run into some hurdles on their way there.

In this film, we've lost McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer from the first movie, but we also gain Jada Pinkett Smith, as an emcee who Tatum's character used to work for; Elizabeth Banks, in a cameo role; Amber Heard; Andie McDowell; Donald Glover; and a few more I won't mention here, to save the surprise. Pinkett Smith is exceptionally good here, and she and Tatum have great chemistry. Heard has a small role as a wannabe-photographer who Tatum's character meets on a beach in Florida, and then later reunites with, although their ending is left (intentionally?) vague.

Yes, see this movie. It's a great "chick flick" but I'd argue that even guys will find something fun to watch here - the plot is actually decent this time around, and there's actually more "story" than stripping (though don't get me wrong - you definitely see a lot of male abs in this film!). We had some preshow "entertainment" that was fun too - some "male entertainers" showed up. Magic Mike XXL is a movie I'd watch again, and I found it to be a lot less serious than its predecessor which was a welcome change. You also don't have to have seen the first one to understand this installment, although it's good to have that background info from the first movie. I don't think a 3rd Magic Mike will be made, at least from what I discerned from this movie, but if it was I'd definitely be interested in seeing it, as this one was great.

Magic Mike XXL is in theaters today, July 1st, and is rated R with a runtime of 115 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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