Nichely Entertaining ‘Magic Mike XXL’ a Substanceless Soft Porn

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 3 (2 votes)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – You know those amateur porns with no-name actors that use cheesy dialogue in between the sex scenes those viewers simply want? You never expect a real story or actually developed characters because it’s a collection of sex scenes. It’s not a real, you know, movie.

“Magic Mike XXL” is a soft porn with professional, “A”-list actors, but the film’s script takes the same substanceless qualities of its amateur porn brethren. Unlike soft porns, the sequel’s cinematography is Hollywood caliber and its actors know how to act, but its script is just as insulting. And the film’s purpose for being is the same: just to show you their dancing naughty bits with cheap words in between.

Though I’m not the demographic for “Magic Mike XXL,” I can recognize the value of pure shut-your-brain-off entertainment. Sometimes that comes in the form of a brainless popcorn flick that just blows stuff up and uses CGI to make special effects look appealing.

Stephen Boss, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Joe Manganiello, Channing Tatum and Adam Rodriguez Magic Mike XXL
Left to right: Stephen “Twitch” Boss as Malik, Matt Bomer as Ken, Kevin Nash as Tarzan, Joe Manganiello as Richie, Channing Tatum as Mike and Adam Rodriguez as Tito in “Magic Mike XXL”.
Image credit: Warner Bros., Claudette Barius

Other times it’s well-oiled strippers turned actors who revisit their stripper days just to strut around shirtless for two hours and dance into the smooth recesses of every woman’s fantasy. I know “Magic Mike XXL” has that as its primary mission, but I can’t forgive it for having nothing else to say.

Targeting a “girl’s night out” movie, the primary purpose for this film is seeing mostly nude strippers dancing with little concern for the story that propels them. But when a film has a $14.5 million budget and decides to write one of the laziest, non-existent stories I’ve seen in 2015 – and in Tuesday pre-shows it’s outpacing “Terminator Genisys,” which actually attempts to have a real story – something is very wrong and Hollywood is laughing to the bank.

“Terminator Genisys” isn’t a perfect film either, but “Magic Mike XXL” is proving how unintelligent audiences are willing to be in exchange for flashing some flesh and dancing smooth grooves.

Jada Pinkett Smith in Magic Mike XXL
Jada Pinkett Smith as Rome in “Magic Mike XXL”.
Image credit: Warner Bros, Claudette Barius

At my female-dominated screening of “Magic Mike XXL,” though, the audience was more vocal, sexified and entertained than any other film I’ve screened in 2015 – certainly much more so than “Fifty Shades of Grey”. The audience at my screening collectively blew a gasket when Channing Tatum first appeared on screen and I threw up in my mouth and spoiled the taste of my hot dog.

When I can sum up a film in one line and have there be nothing beneath the surface, it’s insultingly oversimplified. It’s replacing important cinematic elements – such as the need for an actual story and engaging characters you care about – with superficial fillers like attractive mostly naked dancers.

Here’s the plot: “Group of has-been hot guys get back together to make a sequel for ‘one last ride’ so Jada Pinkett Smith has a reason to be sultry and Channing Tatum can show off more of his abs.” It’s as simple as that.

Channing Tatum as Mike in Magic Mike XXL
Channing Tatum as Mike in “Magic Mike XXL”.
Image credit: Warner Bros., Claudette Barius

Their road trip to a stripper convention, which so out of place finds Elizabeth Banks in charge of it, is entirely pointless. It could have just as easily been replaced with a trip to Disney World to pet the dolphins and then strip for all the children’s stressed-out parents. Actually, that would have been a better plot. At least you’d be able to laugh at it instead of this, which treats you like you’re a dumb monkey just wanting a jiggling banana.

“Magic Mike XXL” forgot to watch films like “Striptease” and “Showgirls”. Sure, those films feature women instead of men, but they have the same mission. The difference is “Striptease” and “Showgirls” really do have a story and create actual drama between characters you grow to care about.

It’s unacceptable to defend “Magic Mike XXL” with: “I just wanted to take my girlfriends out for a fun time. I don’t care about the story or the characters.” We’ve seen films that have offered this “fun time” with much more depth and cinematic merit.

Joe Manganiello in Magic Mike XXL
Joe Manganiello (center) as Richie in “Magic Mike XXL”.
Image credit: Warner Bros., Claudette Barius

I got somewhat excited for a moment when “Magic Mike XXL” decided to have its strippers throw out their tried-and-true costumes and age-old routines for the notion of originality. But even then, the dances showing off new routines serve no more purpose than to be a collection of one-acts. Perhaps audiences who wanted exactly that would have been happier without any of the “story” and just two straight hours of themed dance sequences instead – one even stealing a page directly from “Fifty Shades of Grey” and other from Bruno Mars’ song “Marry You”.

Even if you’re satiated by the dance sequences and the in-between attempt at a story that tries to build up to them, you can’t say you actually gave a dirty rat’s butt about what happened to anyone or were invested in anything except for escaping your regular life for 115 minutes. The only character who had an ounce of interesting plot progression going for her is Amber Heard as Zoe.

Zoe is a mysterious, aloof, flaky and free-spirited woman who artificially gets wrapped in Channing Tatum’s stripper web because he happens to be peeing in the woods while she conveniently pops up to heckle him. But for a moment – and then the moment passed – I wondered what might be for Zoe. Though her character could have actually gone somewhere, she also ended up being a red herring like the rest of this pointless film that fails to be anything more than a soft porn with some filler words to keep it rated “R”.

“Magic Mike XXL” stars Channing Tatum, Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Donald Glover, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Stephen Boss, Andie MacDowell and Michael Strahan from director Gregory Jacobs, writer Reid Carolin and executive producer Steven Soderbergh. The film, which opened on July 1, 2015, has a running time of 115 minutes. It is rated “R” for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use.

HollywoodChicago.com publisher Adam Fendelman

By ADAM FENDELMAN
Publisher
HollywoodChicago.com
adam@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2015 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com LLC

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing

TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

Advertisement



HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter

archive

HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions
tracker