By Matthew McKibben | July 2, 2015
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Writer: Reid Carolin
Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Juan Piedrahita, Kevin Nash, Gabriel Iglesias, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith
Anne Gaskill McKibben and Matthew McKibben bravely go where no married couple has gone thus far… A co-authored review of Magic Mike XXL:
Matt: Having not seen the first Magic Mike, I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in to Magic Mike XXL. I had heard that the first movie was disappointing on some levels, mainly in regard to it being a serious movie when all people wanted was silly stripping stuff. Going into Magic Mike XXL, I had heard that it was the movie that audiences were promised the first time but didn’t end up getting. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I can now say that this is definitely the movie that fans were wanting the first time around.
Anne: Definitely. I mean, the first Magic Mike wasn’t an awful movie, it just didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be. It took everything you wanted in a movie about male strippers and then dumped on a super downer drug-deal-gone-wrong subplot. You don’t go out with your girlfriends to see a movie called Magic Mike to watch some guy spend his life savings to save his friend’s life. Let’s be honest – you went to that movie to see Channing Tatum and his hot co-stars get naked and oiled up and then dance in ways that would make it super uncomfortable to watch it with your husband. Which is exactly what we did for Magic Mike XXL. For the record, I insisted you watch the first movie, too. You know, out of a duty to SLSS readers.
Matt: I’m 100% sure SLSS readers were foremost on your mind when you made me watch the first Magic Mike this past weekend. It was SLSS readers > Matthew McConnaughey’s “alright alright alright” abs and pecs. Sure, sure… Not to get stuck on the first Magic Mike too long but having now seen it, I kind of appreciate what Steven Soderbergh was trying to do with it. It’s a good movie, but not one that’ll make you hoot and holler at the screen. But Magic Mike XXL is the kind of movie that one takes a rowdy set of friends to in the hopes of having a good time. I’ve been to Star Wars movies on opening nights and have seen 99% of superhero movies in the theater, but the Magic Mike XXL crowd was by far the most fun movie theater crowd I’ve ever experienced.
Anne: I actually really loved how this movie was so aware of the critiques launched at the first movie. Not to give anything away, but the movie starts with a tone that’s pretty similar to the last one. I was starting to mourn the fun stripper flick I’d been promised when, about ten minutes into the movie, they literally throw that whole plot line out the window. It was kinda brilliant. And I’m not just saying that because the next hour and a half were a parade of beautiful men dancing half naked on a wild road trip to a national stripper convention… Sorry, honey.
Matt: Oh that’s totally why you’re saying that. No need to be modest. Whereas the first movie had a lo-fi original Rocky kind of feel to it, the second one is closer to being Pitch Perfect with naked dudes. The first movie may not have been great but it at least had a plot and some substance to it. Magic Mike XXL’s plot is razor thin; a group of hot guys start here, go there, strip in between, and then compete at the end against no one in particular. I did find myself getting bored throughout the slower parts but the dance scenes were fun, inventive, and often times laugh out loud funny.
Anne: The dancing was insane. Insane. And like you said, some of the dance scenes were downright hilarious. While also managing to be sexy. I’m not sure you’ll be able to watch a man eat Cheetos the same way ever again after watching this movie. That’s for sure.
Matt: Do you typically make a practice of watching men each Cheetos? The first Magic Mike’s dancing never reached escape velocity, always being set in the club and relatively straight forward. The first movie had some props and costumes and stuff, but Magic Mike XXL really went for it on the originality side of things. They didn’t just have props, they had entire elaborate scenes constructed.
Anne: While it’s true the plot isn’t exactly nuanced, I will say this movie had exactly as much plot as it needed to churn out hot dance scene after hot dance scene with every imaginable audience in attendance. Gay bar? Check. Beach party? Check. Bored cougar divorcees? Check. Men of every shape and color? Check and check. But the movie never pretended to be anything more than that, and that’s why it worked. It’s like they came out saying, “Oh, the last movie was too serious? Not hot enough for you? Should have been funnier? Well, here you go!” I mean the very first dance scene with Channing Tatum welding…
Matt: It was during the audience reaction for that scene that I knew what kind of movie experience I was in for that night. I’m still not a full on believer in Channing Tatum’s acting ability, but the dude is a bonafide star. That’s undeniable at this point. He has a charisma that holds one’s attention when he’s on screen and it never seems forced. He’s a good looking guy who is also very self-deprecating and hilariously funny. You want to hate him, but at the end of the day, you kind of give in and root for the guy. He kind of reminds me of Cocktail-era Tom Cruise. I hear that they’re rebooting Top Gun with Tom Cruise in the teacher part. Perhaps they should cast Channing Tatum as the upstart 2015 version of Maverick. Or… maybe they could go full on comedy and put Channing Tatum and his 21 Jump Street costar Jonah Hill in a cockpit together.
Anne: Oh, I respect his abilities alright. Every woman in that theater was filled with respect. Loud, raucous, respect.
Matt: So you ABS-olutely respect his abilities, then. I’d say the rest of the crew wasn’t given a whole ton to do, but each dude had a scene or two to show off.
Anne: And show off they did. I will say that Joe Manganiello’s storyline was my favorite. Amen to that. It was a veritable man candy buffet.
Matt: Manganiello’s story being that he has a huge penis with no one to put it in? You mean that one?
Anne: Yeah. Looking for his glass slipper. It turned the Cinderella story on its head in a pretty hilarious way, but also gave the film some much needed depth.
Matt: This review may end up climaxing with a pun and double entendre record.
Anne: Yeah. And not to look at things too deeply, but this story actually had powerful and interesting female characters. That was a huge improvement on the buzzkill romantic interest who was the sole female voice in the first movie.
Matt: That’s true. All the women in this were far more interesting and fleshed out than the male leads… Though that’s a weird opposite pun intention there…
I was a bit mixed on Jada Pinkett Smith’s storyline. She’s clearly taken over the Matthew McConaughey part as ringleader of the group, but her part really just kind of comes out of nowhere, flashes brightly, and then is just kind of inert for the rest of the movie. She’s probably given the most to do from an acting standpoint, and she clearly relished playing a part like this, but after her memorable intro, I felt like she was underutilized for the rest of the movie. How did not having Matthew McConaughey work (or not) for you?
Anne: Honestly? This movie was so different from the first that I didn’t really miss his not being there. He was definitely an anchor in the first movie – that kind of snake oil salesman, mentor-turned-villain character you have to have for that kind of movie – but in this movie there was no need for that kind of character. He wouldn’t have really fit into the sexy roadtrip plot. And how they handled his absence was funny, too, but I won’t say anything more about that. I liked having a strong female ringleader – and the fact that the audiences this time were much more diverse than the mostly-models crowds in the first film. Those two factors definitely helped this film exist under a more female gaze than the first Magic Mike.
Matt: Beyond all else, I found the movie sociologically and psychologically interesting from an audience participation standpoint. Let’s face it, you don’t see a ton of movies where men are as objectified on screen as they are here. The audience reaction reminded me of old clips of young girls freaking out at Beatles concerts. Perhaps women need more avenues where they let off some sexual steam with their friends. Sometimes, all Channing Tatum would have to do is smile and the audience would flip their shit.
Anne: I definitely feel like there are only two ways to watch this movie: at the theater with a bunch of friends, or at home, alone…probably with batteries. So… Of course, I watched it with my husband. If these men ever want to retire billionaires, they should just take this show on the road. There were about 100 women in that theater (and a handful of men), and every one of them would have made it rain for hours.
Matt: It was fun seeing it. I don’t do strip clubs, male or female, but this was probably the next best thing. And the audience was killer. If I recommend this to anyone, I’m going to recommend you see it early when the audiences are huge. The first Magic Mike made 113 million dollars at the box office. I think this one earns three times that amount. Easily.
Anne: Yeah, people are going to be coming again and again.
Matt: Here we go…
Anne: Going. To the movie, I mean. What did you think I was talking about?
Anne: I mean these men really bring it hard. And they just keep going strong for two straight hours.
Matt: Okay, on a scale of 1 to 10, where do you rank Magic Mike XXL?
Anne: Do you want it in points or in inches?
Matt: Points will do.
Anne: If you want to throw back a cocktail or two and just have fun at the movies, this will definitely fulfill your needs. Satisfy all your desires. Have you begging for more. On a fun scale and a fun scale alone (is there anything else that matters here?), I give it a firm 10 out of 10. I mean I’m definitely hoping for Magic Mike: Ménage a Trois. (And if they choose that title, I’ll accept my royalties in the form of a private show.)
Matt: Can’t let you get all the good puns in. On its merits as a movie, I give it a 6.9 out of 10. If I could rate the audience I saw the movie with, I’d give them a 10 out of 10.
Rating: 10/10 (Anne), 6.9/10 (Matt)