Magic Mike XXL

starstar

They say everyone has one book in them.. and the first movie was Tatum’s story. This second go-round was really just an excuse to make some money and have some more dancing; a series of barely connected vignettes without a center and without a purpose. I know, I know, you don’t come to this expecting a story. Though, I have to admit, the first really did have a plot and some semblance of an interesting path and characters.

That said, there are a few great moments amidst the weak and silly script. Amber Heard (Three Days to Kill) and Channing Tatum (Jupiter Ascending) manage a real connection and some nice by-play. Jada Pinkett-Smith (Gotham) creates a believable, powerful, jaded woman who can sell.

Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart), however, fades in the repeat showing of his character. Despite his moments in the sun. His character is weak and his acting not much better. And Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy) just comes off completely fake and foolish.

The surprises for me were Andie McDowell (Footloose) in a lonely, bitter southern housewife role and Ronald Glover (The Lazarus Effect) in a weird sort of quasi-stripper role. Even Michael Strahan makes an unexpected appearance.

There is an odd attempt to push all the character into unlikely places (the guys as drag queens, the women with each other, etc). The effect, however, is to have it all feel rather forced. Amusing, sure, but just not real or satisfying because it isn’t believable.

There is talent in this film, but they had very little to work with. The dancing is often very, very good. You have to admire these guys for their abilities and their dedication to keeping their physiques, but that just isn’t enough to make a movie. What is sad isn’t that they made the movie they did, but they had the raw materials to make a much better film instead, and decided not to. If all you want is some skin distraction, go for it. If you want something with a bit more… ahem, meat, well, look elsewhere. This sequel compares barely more favorably than Showgirls, if that gives you any idea of the value.

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