Movie Reviews: Magic Mike XXL




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     Warner Bros.  (1hr. 55 mins.)
    Mike rejoins the remaining Kings of Tampa for a stripper’s convention in Myrtle Beach.
     Channing Tatum, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Strahan, Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash 
Bottom Line:

Samantha Ofole-Prince

What man in his right mind would leave a startup business on the verge of success to return to a seedy life of stripping he initially wanted out of?  Not too many we would assume, but that's exactly what Mike Lane does in this sequel which sees the oiled up strippers back to strut their stuff.

Three years after he quit the stripper spotlight for a different kind of life, Mike (Channing Tatum) has come to realize he traded one grind for another. Although the furniture business is booming or at least doing well, he only has one employee, whose health insurance he can’t afford to pay for. Adding, the girl he thought was the one…wasn’t. When he receives a call that his former stripper boss (Matthew McConaughey's character) has died, he goes to the wake, only to realize it was a ruse put on by his former buddies. After a beer with the old cronies, he realizes he misses the stripper’s life and decides to join the boys on a trip to the stripper convention -- an event that is every bit as outrageous as it sounds.

What follows is a road trip to Myrtle Beach that’s filled with few stops along the way as additional characters are introduced. There’s a brief visit to a gay strip club (where they meet real-life drag performer Vicky Vox), an all-night beach party, another party with a bunch of middle-aged ladies hosted by Andie MacDowell (“Footloose”) and a stop at a joint run by Mike's old flame Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith).  Smith is the big boss lady who runs a strip club filled with a mostly black male crew of strippers (Michael Strahan, Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss) that caters to a predominantly black female clientele.

Joe Manganiello, reprises his role as Big Dick Richie (BDR), alongside Matt Bomer as the picture-perfect Ken, Adam Rodriguez as Latin sensation Tito, Kevin Nash as wild-man Tarzan, and Gabriel Iglesias as their freewheeling MC, Tobias.

There are a couple of thrilling individual routines on multiple platforms, leading up to a spectacular number everyone has been waiting for: Channing Tatum and tWitch, matching their combustible energies in a dance duet. There’s also Tatum’s opening number, a freestyle solo in the garage where he makes furniture, triggered by Ginuwine’s “Pony” on the radio but beyond that, this one lacks any hint of the creativity or style he brought to the original. 

In the first film, stripping was something from which Mike needed to escape. In the sequel, it's inescapable. Those looking to watch barely naked men gyrate on stage will enjoy the visuals, but those seeking substance and dialogue should hunt elsewhere for there's simply no story or magic in this lackluster sequel.

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