REVIEW: Magic Mike XXL

Channing Tatum plays Mike. PA Photo/Warner Bros/Claudette Barius.
Channing Tatum plays Mike. PA Photo/Warner Bros/Claudette Barius.
David Calder as Julius Caesar in the play of the same name at The Bridge Theatre. Picture by Manuel Harlan

Beware the Ides of March, but enjoy this screening

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Apart from the tease in the title of this pelvis-thrusting sequel, Gregory Jacobs’ third feature is longer and showier than the original.

The film dutifully thrusts its crotch towards the target demographics, intentionally showing paying women customers of every age, ethnicity and shape enjoying the raunchy dance solos, and shoehorning a scene in a gay club that enforces limp-wristed stereotypes.

Unfortunately, the breathlessly staged performances are forced to bump ‘n’ grind against a script that is flimsier than a moth-eaten G-string.

The narrative lacks pace and purpose. Most of the characters are limited to one scene of personal development, and a central romance between Channing Tatum and on-screen love interest Amber Heard remains limp.

Tatum is the film’s strongest asset and his athleticism and agility are repeatedly tested by choreographer Alison Faulk.

Pulses quicken when the dancers have their clothes on, gyrating suggestively against whooping clientele, but as soon as the trousers come down and posing pouches succumb to gravity, the electrical charge dissipates.

The breathlessly staged performances are forced to bump ‘n’ grind against a script that is flimsier than a moth-eaten G-string

This might be the first film about male entertainers where the audience rowdily cheers ‘put ‘em back on!’

It’s been three years since Mike Lane (Tatum) turned his back on stripping to pursue his custom furniture business.

Times are tough; his girlfriend has left him, he’s struggling to pay his one employee, and when his signature song blasts from the radio in his workshop, he can’t resist a feverish grind against the nearest workstation.

Consequently, Mike reunites with fellow dancers Ken (Matt Bomer), Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and Tarzan (Kevin Nash) for one final pelvis-thrusting hurrah as the Kings of Tampa at a strippers’ convention in Myrtle Beach.

En route, the team’s MC Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) is waylaid in hospital, Richie finds a potential soulmate in an uninhibited Southern belle (Andie MacDowell), and the men learn new tricks from smooth operators Andre (Donald Glover), Malik (Stephen ‘Twitch’ Boss) and Augustus (Michael Strahan) at a private club called Domina run by sassy businesswoman Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith).

The road trip narrative is a creaky support for the poorly conceived vignettes in Reid Carolin’s script, which conveniently forgets about Mike’s faltering business, his customers and one employee as soon as he boards the van to Myrtle Beach.

Rome’s affirmative message that all women deserved to be worshipped as queens by their men might ring true if the women in the film weren’t dragged, pushed and spun around the floor like supermops by the dancers.

It’s one way to do the housework, I suppose.