Film review: Magic Mike XXL is a fun but inferior summer sequel

 
James Luxford
Magic Mike XXL knows exactly what it’s audience will be coming back for
Cert 15 | ★★☆☆☆
When a modestly budgeted film goes on to make $100million, a sequel is near-enough guaranteed. The follow up to Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike finds the eponymous Mike living a life away from dancing. He’s successful but somewhat unfulfilled until he receives a call from his old colleagues, “The Kings of Tampa”, who invite him for one last ride to a final show at a stripper convention.
While not a classic, the first film was certainly more than met the eye. Soderbergh aimed for nuance, showing the dark, lonely side to Mike’s world alongside the screaming and baby oil. This time the grit is gone as our pumped protagonists bond and party in a much more comedy-led, cartoonish way.
Tatum’s charming, earnest on-screen persona has carried him through worse films than this, but it does seem a step back for an actor who in recent years has proved he can do more than smoulder. He’s backed by a troupe of overly enthusiastic co-stars, all clearly delighted to be back with beefed up roles. The same can’t be said for Amber Heard, surly and hard to like as Mike’s new love interest.
Of the new additions, Andie MacDowell makes an appearance as a rich older woman in a scene more awkward than seductive. The standout is Jada Pinkett-Smith, who judges the tone perfectly as a melodramatic but charismatic M.C. from Mike’s past.
Magic Mike XXL knows exactly what it’s audience will be coming back for, and it gives it to them in the finale, an orgy of strobe lights, crumpled dollar bills and orange muscles. It’s all good fun if your interest was in seeing Tatum and co. wearing not very much, but taken as a whole, you can add this to the long list of inferior summer sequels.

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