MAGIC MIKE XXL – Review by Susan Granger

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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

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.