When Steven Soderbergh’s over-the-top comedy romp was a surprise hit in 2012, a sequel was inevitable. So three years later, Mike (Channing Tatum) abandons his burgeoning furniture business to re-join the brawny Kings of Tampa for one last road trip to a Stripper Convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
In Jacksonville, Mike meets Zoe (Amber Heard), a flirtatious photographer. And when Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello) does an impromptu solo, grinding on a soda machine, just to bring a smile to the face of a glum mini-mart clerk, Mike realizes they all need to come up with some new, erotic moves.
So it’s onto Savannah to find raunchy Rome (Jada Pickett Smith), who runs Domina, a private pleasure palace where black women can indulge their fantasies. While Mike convinces her to become their new Master of Ceremonies, she can’t hold a candle to Matthew McConaughey’s charming zest.
Insofar as eye-candy goes: these buff, oiled-up, half-naked, virile guys – including Matt Bomer as Ken, Adam Rodriguez as Tito and Kevin Nash as Tarzan – show off their rippling, washboard abs and deliver lots of pelvic thrusts, joined by Donald Glover as romantic rapper Andre, NFL Super Bowl Champ Michael Strahan as athletically-inclined Augustus, and Stephen ‘t’Witch’ Boss as Malik, who mirrors Mike in the show-stopping finale.
Their ridiculous gyrations delight Andie MacDowall’s uninhibited, cougar-like, sex-starved Southern divorcee and Elizabeth Banks’ convention chief, who candidly wonders whether Mike still has the magic. And the raucous interlude in a LGBT club is an obvious nod to the gay audience.
Based on producer/star Channing Tatum’s nostalgic experiences, it’s superficially scripted by Reid Carolin, choreographed by Alison Faulk and directed by Gregory Jacobs – with the concept’s creator/producer Steven Soderbergh behind-the-scenes as cinematographer and editor, using the pseudonyms, Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard, respectively.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Magic Mike XXL” is a sleazy, sybaritic yet surprisingly sweet 7, revolving around a troupe of male strippers who are determined to elevate women’s self-esteem.M