Magic Mike XXL – Female Entertainment In All Its Glory!

I found the first Magic Mike to be weirdly depressing for a movie about ‘male entertainers’ – full disclosure, I still bought the DVD! (for the dance play mode on the bonus features, obviously) – but I loved Magic Mike XXL.

An exercise in pure wish fulfilment for the predominantly female fanbase, the sequel doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is – in fact it revels in it.

The original cast are back minus Matthew McConaughey – a plus for me as I’m not a fan! and Alex Pettyfer who I do like but who was surplus to requirements.

Instead Step Up sensation Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss and Donald Glover are along for the ride. There are also strong roles for Jada Pinkett Smith, Andie MacDowell and Elizabeth Banks who all look absolutely thrilled to be on set. So too do the 900 female extras, some of whom were competition winners and look like they are literally having the time of their lives as they get (very) up close and personal with the stars.

Armed with a much bigger budget and a whole lot of fan reaction from the original, Tatum and co seem to have listened. Unlike the first film, XXL is packed with dance sequences, some of which defy description – they really do have to be seen to be believed – and a lighter ‘buddy movie’ tone which plays on the cast’s natural chemistry to create a genuinely funny film, with a lot of heart.

There are still some odd scenes that seem like Soderbergh trying to impose an artistic vision on the film, most of which form an unnecessary subplot to give Mike a new girl in Amber Heard’s Zoe, but for the most part it’s a joyous road trip movie following the usual formula of a group of guys coming back together for one last job. The twist is that the job is a stripper convention.

And for those who thought Magic Mike shied away from showing much actual stripping, XXL is the payoff.

All tastes are pretty much catered for within the core cast (a bit like a boyband) and we all have our favourites. I like Channing Tatum, but I don’t find him attractive. That is until he dances, and wow does he dance in XXL!

I’m trying hard to stop this review just being a love letter to the beauty of Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer, which is why I haven’t mentioned either until now, but bloody hell Joe in and out of a tuxedo and Matt simultaneously singing and stripping is definitely something to behold, particularly cinema-sized!

There’s a nice nod to the LGBT fans with a fun scene in a drag club and Amber Heard’s Zoe remarks that she’s ‘not in a boy phase’ but it isn’t reduced to tokenism.

And like all good road trip movies, the guys ‘find themselves’ along the way.

The message of this ‘stripper odyssey’ is embrace who you are, even if that happens to be a 35-year-old ‘male entertainer’. Oh, and that all women should be worshipped – talk about listening to your audience and giving them what they want!

Fun, feel-good and a visual feast 😉 I would happily have watched this again from the beginning as soon as it finished! – 5 Stars



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