Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Movie Review: "Magic Mike XXL" (2015)

© Warner Bros.

There is a scene in a convenience store where the disheartened Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello) is challenged by his stripper buddies to improvise a routine through the aisles to elicit a smile from the downtrodden girl at the counter. That may be the dumbest sentence I've ever written down, and it is a scene that—in a nutshell—embodies everything that this movie is about. Zero stakes, but a metric shit ton of ear-to-ear smiles. Magic Mike XXL is as delightful as it is substance-less, which makes it ideal summer entertainment.

Three years after the events of the unexpectedly plot-filled Magic Mike, the titular Mike (Channing Tatum) is running his carpentry business in Tampa, long done with his stripper days. But you guys, he's got an itch he can't scratch—he just gotta dance. When his buddies from the old show arrive in Tampa on their way to Myrtle Beach for the Annual Stripper Convention, Mike can't resist temptation and hops aboard their Food Truck-turned-Stripper Mobile to make the journey, too.

Mike is a doer, and any problem that arises, he finds a solution so quickly that the film and characters never really suffer for it. Dance routines need updating? Mike's got ideas. Old beefs need to be addressed? Mike'll take that punch he's got coming. Vehicle out of commission? Mike knows where you can find a Bentley. This movie is the exact opposite of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.

There's not a conflict to be found within ten miles of this film, and it doesn't take long to realize that it's really the better for it. Everything is remarkably convenient, and despite any pitfalls, a saucy lady with money and connections is ne'er more than a shimmy-shake and pelvic thrust away. And it's a good thing too, because when the movie tries to be serious is when we all start looking at Snapchat. We want sexy dancing until we're made to blush, and we want it now!

The script is admittedly hammy and simplistic, with forced attempts at confidence boosting for men and women alike. I was delighted and confused by the random Constant Gardener joke, right before rolling my eyes at Mike trying to convince his (sort of?) love interest, Zoe (Amber Heard), that she would be much happier on the pole than following her photography dreams to New York. They're entertainers, and entertainers have a very special, necessary place in society, and so on and so forth. Despite the cheesiness, I wholeheartedly agree, so stop talking and entertain us, boys!

There were a handful of 'bathroom break' moments where it didn't matter what was going on. Which was good, because I was at one of those theaters with a bar where you can bring in your drinks to watch the movie, so after a pint-sized Mojito, that was pretty much a blessing (if you're wondering, when they get to the hospital scene, duck out then, you'll miss nothing).

Every woman these guys come into contact with during their east coast road trip is an extension of that part in all of us that we pretend isn't there: the wine or Cosmo-swilling "woo girl" who wants to make it rain dollar bills over a pair of washboard abs, and be picked up and swung around like we're a feather.

Thank you, Magic Mike XXL, you're like an uncomplicated one-night stand. I'll always remember the time we shared together.

Rating: ★★★½ / 5 stars

I'm gonna leave this right here.

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