The last source of life lessons anyone would expect would be a movie about Male Strippers who gyrate in front of girls to the tune of Ginuwine’s Pony but given how far we’ve become as a race, anything’s possible and that’s why the MAGIC MIKE movies exist.
The first MAGIC MIKE wasn’t much, even if it was something fun to watch. Beyond its reputation for being the male version of SHOWGIRLS thanks to its cast of Gyrating Buff Daddies, MAGIC MIKE didn’t have much in its story to set itself from the pack of serious examinations of the American Dream. Sure, it was necessary considering that the movie was released in the years following the American Economic Recession but beyond the Male Strippers, it was just another movie with lofty goals in examining some hard themes. If there’s one major flaw MAGIC MIKE had, it was taking itself too seriously. Look, if your movie’s going to star motherfucking Gyrating Buff Daddies, don’t try to be the next AMERICAN BEAUTY because who the fuck can take the American Dream seriously if you throw strippers of all genders at it before some asshole calls it an American Ream Job story.
Thankfully, someone out there in the MAGIC MIKE writing department heard that complaint and decided to tell all that pretentious crap to go fuck off and give audiences what they expected when they first entered a cinema showing MAGIC MIKE: Two hours of pelvic thrusting courtesy of a cast of Gyrating Buff Daddies. And by ditching all that serious shit, MAGIC MIKE XXL didn’t just turn into an entertaining Roadtrip movie starring strippers but it also became a better movie than its predecessor.
In MAGIC MIKE XXL, the story goes simple and instead of having the characters become allegories to the economic situations of America, XXL instead just reunites the remains of the Kings of Tampa as they go for one last ride as Male Strippers… by going cross country to a fucking Stripper Convention. Apparently there’s such a thing. Who would’ve known. Rather than contemplate too long on the hardships of life in suburbia, the cast just do what they do best and thrust their way into glory with crotch shots ahoy. This also fixes a major problem of the first installment, which was its abundance of plot threads. By eliminating all the unnecessary shit like too many goddamned side stories and just locking XXL to the main roadtrip, XXL ends up a more focused and coherent movie as it simply follows the last hurrah of everyone’s favorite group of cinematic Gyrating Buff Daddies.
The good thing about XXL is that it knows its audience doesn’t really give a flying fuck about the story so it just concentrates on having a good time while delivering a serviceable narrative to tie the happenings and dances together. Sure, it’s a lot more shallow when compared to part one but it is, hands down, the more enjoyable of the two. Unlike part one, the dance scenes here finally felt organic and cohesive to the overall story and the cast’s trip to their grand finale. In part one, the dance scenes felt more obligatory and looked like they were just added at the last minute to remind the audience that yes, this is a Stripper Drama (emphasis on the Oscar Bait Drama). On the other hand in XXL, things flow smoother thanks to a lack of dramatic distractions so now, it isn’t so jarring and weird when Mike and company suddenly break into dance to solve their personal issues.
Even if it doesn’t take itself seriously at all, MAGIC MIKE XXL still manages to add depth and character to the Kings of Tampa in ways part one never even thought of. While the first movie concentrated on the contrast between Mike and Adam and basically ignored everyone else unless the dance scenes came along, XXL fixes its gaze on the five main strippers and each of them gets a chance to shine outside of their solo sexy dances. Each one has a story and a past behind that stripper name and it was a great surprise to see how XXL never forgot that these were still people with dreams beyond grinding it on the stage. This helps in making a simple story about One Last Ride more believable and relatable since these guys know they won’t last forever as Male Entertainers, which is something I was not expecting when I went to watch MAGIC MIKE XXL.
Considering how “seriously” MAGIC MIKE XXL takes itself, it rightly executes its more emotional moments as a joke or with humorous light shone on it since, hey, this is a goddamned movie about Male Strippers, XXL succeeds in making the audience care for the Gyrating Buff Daddies, making them more than just Sexy Slabs of Meat. Might as well have some fun while they’re at it. How serious is this movie? There’s a part in the movie where the strippers solve a major identity crisis by pelvic thrusting at people. And it was glorious comic gold. Taking its new comedic and self-aware outlook into account, these moments come out as some of the funniest scenes made for an R-rated comedy in recent memory and yet they were also some of the most surprisingly human scenes executed in the movie. MAGIC MIKE XXL expertly balances the drama and the comedy, making it an entertaining romp with unexpected depth that its viewers will appreciate.
Yes, the plot is paper-thin at best since it’s just an excuse to tie events and dance scenes together. Yes, the movie can be classified as nothing but two hours of fanservice for the ladies. But was it an enjoyable movie? Fuck yes it was. I’m a straight guy and I’m not turned on by this kind of shit but I’m not going to deny the fact that I left MAGIC MIKE XXL laughing at the memories of certain scenes and punchlines. It’s hard to forget a likable cast of Male Strippers with silly yet creative stage names who told their story in such an engaging and fun manner that you just can’t help but like the movie, sexual preferences aside. And who the fuck can forget a movie where they turned the Backstreet Boys song “I Want It That Way” into a sensual experience.
If you’re just looking for some raunchy fun on the big-screen (it’s still not THAT raunchy though; XXL is still a mainstream movie after all) with friends, then XXL will suffice. If you’re the kind that’s REALLY into two hours of Gyrating Buff Daddies, do yourself a favor and watch XXL now so that your needs can be healed. Just don’t slobber all over the Channing Tatum posters, please.