“Magic Mike XXL” No Big Improvement
By Skip Sheffield
“Magic Mike XXL” lost some of its magic with the exit of Matthew McConnaghey as the boss stripper guy, Dallas. Original director Steven Soderberg remains as cinematographer and producer, but new director Gregory Jacobs (“Oceans” 11, 12 and 13) does not have as sure a hand.
Besides the fact McConnaghey is one good-looking hombre, he is an actor who never met a role he couldn’t embrace; from the AIDS-infected cowboy in “Dallas Buyers Club” to the redneck outlaw in “Mud” to the long-in-tooth males stripper Dallas in the first “Magic Mike.”
That leaves the title character, played by Channing Tatum, as the leading man. Tatum has a finely chiseled body, but his acting chops are less sharp. Then again Reid Carolin’s script (he wrote the original and “22 Jump Street”) is less than brilliant. There really isn’t a plot. Mike (Channing Tatum) is a struggling contractor in Tampa with one employee (Juan Piedrahita). Mike dropped out of the Kings of Tampa male stripper revue three years earlier. Then he gets a message that former “King,” Tarzan (Kevin Nash) has passed away. Out of respect Mike goes to the wake. The wake was simply a ruse to get Mike back with his Tampa King buddies, throw him in the pool and say hey, let’s do one last big blowout in Myrtle Beach!
Myrtle Beach… slowly I turned… no, that’s a different joke. Myrtle Beach South Carolina is a joke. It makes Tampa looks like Beverly Hills by comparison. But what better place for a male stripper convention?
Enough of the so-called plot. It takes the guys forever to get there, so Mike can hook up with a babe (Amber Heard) on Jacksonville Beach, and so Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello) can hook up with the babe’s randy Southern Belle momma (Andie MacDowell, shamelessly slumming)
Matt Bomber has his moment as the doll-like Ken, and comedian Gabriel Igelsias is moderately amusing as Tobias, the driver. Jada Pinkett Smith has a thankless role as the Kings’ M.C. That’s about it ladies. If you want to see some really buff male bodies strutting their stuff, this is the flick for you. For everyone else, ho-hum.