What it’s about
A bachelorette party disguised as a movie, “Magic Mike XXL” dispenses, for the most part, with the pretense of any sort of meaningful plot and delivers the beefcake its intended female audience wants to see.
It’s Bro Time meets Show Time in this sequel, as the hunky guys bond, all back together again, saying variations of “I love you, man” while never passing up an opportunity to please the ladies, party hard or pose in their underwear.
The Kings of Tampa pull retired Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) back in, so that they can strut their stuff at a male strippers’ convention in Myrtle Beach. Now that Dallas (Matthew McConaughey in the first movie) has taken “The Kid” with him to China and closed down the club that was their livelihood, they need one last hurrah.
So they take a road trip, in a food truck driven by Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias), to Myrtle Beach, with stops in Jacksonville and Savannah before the big blow-out finale.
The actors reprising their roles are charming and likable, and that helps this drivel be palatable (depending on your preference for such mindless entertainment). Their interplay, and their solidarity, is believable. And they sure know how to move.
The story is basically higher-profile bumping and grinding with pretty-boy actors portraying the thinnest cardboard cut-out characters imaginable. That said, no one is expecting method acting or Shakespeare in the Park.
Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”) is Big Richie, and he wins us over with a ridiculously funny scene involving a bet, a mini-mart and a bored clerk. The enormous ex-pro wrestler Kevin Nash is Tarzan, a towering presence; Adam Rodriguez (“CSI: Miami”) is fun-loving Tito; Matt Bomer (“White Collar”) is Ken, a New-Agey doll; and our spirited star with stunning abs is Channing Tatum (“21 Jump Street”), the fearless leader whose professional skills are obvious.
For those who want to ogle well-sculpted half-naked men, this movie provides copious amounts of fantasy and flirtatious encounters. The dance numbers are super-sized, and elaborate routines straddle the line between suggestive gyrating and softcore porn,
The females at the strip clubs aren’t typical Barbie dolls, but there are actually real-sized women, and that, thankfully, is a good thing.
The film is lighter and less dark than the first one, directed by Steven Soderbergh, who returns as cinematographer.
What doesn’t work
If you didn’t like the original in 2012, there is no reason to spend your time or money on this second outing. It’s futile to seek any depth, because at least “Magic Mike XXL” is straightforward about why it was made and for whom. If you are immune to their charms, don’t bother to go.
2 stars out of 2
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks and Andie MacDowell
Rated: R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use.