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Magic Mike XXL
4/5
dir Gregory Jacobs
scr Reid Carolin
prd Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Nick Wechsler
with Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez, Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard, Donald Glover, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks, Gabriel Iglesias, Stephen 'tWitch' Boss
release US/UK 3.Jul.15
15/US Warner 1h55
Magic Mike XXL
The boys are back: Manganiello, Nash, Bomer, Rodriguez and Tatum

pinkett smith heard macdowell

35th Shadows Awards
SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
ELIZABETH BANKS

See also:
Magic Mike (2012)

R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Magic Mike XXL Wilfully avoiding camp silliness, this sequel strikes a remarkably serious tone amid the antics of a group of beefy male strippers. This time it's directed and acted in a low-key, improvisational style, capturing the awkward mix of camaraderie and rivalry men have with their friends. Yes, it's the ultimate bromance.

After quitting stripping for furniture-making, Mike (Tatum) finds himself unable to can't resist reuniting with his pals for one last hurrah to a stripping convention. He hits the road with soulful reiki healer Ken (Bomer), gung-ho beefcake Richie (Manganiello), dark horse Tarzan (Nash), smoothie mixologist Tito (Rodriguez) and food-truck deejay Tobias (Iglesias), searching for that tsunami of dollar bills. As they grapple with personal and friendship issues, they meet up with Mike's old mentor Rome (Pinkett Smith), acquire a couple of team members (Glover and Boss) and find a new benefactor (MacDowell).

With a loose, relaxed pace, the film is almost startlingly serious for a movie about five men who like taking their clothes off for raucous female audiences. But the cast and crew strain to keep things thoroughly and most definitively straight, even when they visit a drag club. Sometimes this feels like standard overcompensation, but then this is also part of the point. And as the meandering plot progresses, the film's most remarkable aspect is its knowing exploration of machismo.

These may be pumped up muscled he-men, but they're also waxed and shaved to within an inch of their lives. All of their dance routines are pure female fantasies, and the women in the cast have especially strong roles. Pinkett Smith struts through the movie with power and sass, Heard offers some weight as Mike's sparring partner, and MacDowell and Banks chomp merrily on the scenery. Meanwhile, the men are struggling to find themselves, and their individual journeys cleverly involve both self-discovery and teamwork instead of any contrived plotting. Indeed, it concludes at a convention, not a competition.

Ultimately, this is a movie about finding happiness through knowing who you are, expressing that in what you do, and relying on your friends. Writer Carolin and director Jacobs tackle this with a light touch, letting the actors create characters that continually resist stereotypes, playing with their masculinity in individualistic ways, then looking to each other for support. And by surrounding them with powerful women, the film actually finds some important things to say about gender politics in between the outrageously sexy dance numbers.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 29.Jun.15

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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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