I wish I could say great things about the sequel to the bump and grind we got in 2012 with Magic Mike.
Three years after Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) bowed out of the male stripper life at the top of his game, “Magic Mike” finds the remaining Kings of Tampa, likewise, ready to throw in the towel. But they want to do it their way: burning down the house in one last blowout performance with legendary headliner Mike sharing the spotlight with them. So they take to the road to the annual strip show convention with a couple of whistle stops along the way to renew old acquaintances and make new friends.
The backstory is that Mike has come to realise that he has actually traded one kind of grind for another. The business he launched isn’t exactly crushing it and the girl he thought was the one wasn’t.
Magic Mike XXL reunites Channing Tatum with Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez and Gabriel Iglesias, who were some of the stars of Magic Mike. Gone are Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer (who played the then 19-year-old who Mike took under his wing) and Cody Horn (the 19-year-old’s sister). This one is directed (very badly) by Emmy Award winner Gregory Jacobs (Behind the Candelabra), who served as a producer on Magic Mike and many other features in a long-running collaboration with Steven Soderbergh. Soderbergh, who was at the helm of the first film, serves as executive producer of the sequel, while Reid Carolin, who wrote the initial installment, has followed up with this (so you can really blame him for the results).
Undoubtedly one of the most disappointing, boring, vacuous movies of the year, the longer it went the more desperate I was for inertia to dissipate and the fun to start. Quite frankly, this is indulgent claptrap.
The opening, where Mike hooks up with the old gang, is a total disaster, a complete and utter train wreck. What the boys say and do is barely comprehensible. I was asking myself “is the language English or gibberish?”. The best scene in the first hour – and this is really a stretch in and of itself – is when one of the crew walks into a convenience store and tries to get a taciturn, disinterested assistant behind the counter to smile. Really, is that the best the scriptwriter could manage? I would be delighted to say it got better from there, but in all honesty I can’t, because it didn’t.
Mike hooks up with an old flame, Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), whom he hasn’t seen for eight years. She runs a high-class strip club where chiselled males dance to adoring women who throw copious amounts of money at them. Mike is prevailed upon to do his bit to restore his old flame’s faith in him, so he ever so reluctantly “takes one for the team”. In fact, that is one of only two times that he puts on a public show, the other coming at the end of the pic in a courting ritual with a girl (Amber Heard) he fancies. (You can add a third time if you count a solo performance in his tool shed at the start of the picture.) Talking of Heard’s character, after initially showing a feisty personality, she totally disintegrates and becomes a blancmange.
Rome also sends Mike and his boys straight into the arms of a horny bunch of ageing women, urged on by Nancy (Andie MacDowell), who can’t believe their luck when the strippers walk in. Nancy breathlessly declares that she has only ever slept with one man and he was gay. Again, I ask, is that the best the scriptwriter could manage?
So, notwithstanding some raunchy “get down and get dirty” moves, Magic Mike XXL is one long and tortured snore fest – a shocker that should never have been made. Some studio head should have called the filmmakers to account, should have pulled them up and told them to scrap what they had and re-shoot it, if indeed they insisted on a sequel. Incidentally, Elizabeth Banks also makes an appearance in a film where 115 minutes was a real ordeal.
Rated MA, Magic Mike XXL scores a 3 out of 10.
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Cast: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Amber Heard, Joe Manganello and Elizabeth Banks
Release Date: 9 July 2015
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television