Film Review – Magic Mike XXL
Magic Mike XXL
I had a pretty crappy day yesterday. (The day before I wrote this, not the day before you are reading it.) I had the pms, ate too much dark chocolate, and then had to take something for my hormone and caffeine induced anxiety spiral. I went to the Magic Mike XXL screening looking for a pleasant diversion, and boy did director Gregory Jacobs give it to me. For reals, it made my day. It’s a very different film than Magic Mike, and while it may be lighter, that’s not a bad thing at all. The first film had much more emphasis on the dance routines and the possible repercussions of making poor life choices; this is a pretty straightforward road movie about male friendships. It’s delightful – and I say this as someone who would not be comfortable in a real-life male stripper situation. It’s a film about dudes that somehow manages to love its women characters too.
Three years after Magic Mike, Mike (Channing Tatum) has left stripping behind for good and is focused on his furniture building business. (I just have to say it: his furniture was awful in the last movie, and it’s equally bad in this one. There is a reason he can’t afford to get health insurance for his one employee.) He gets a call from one of his old stripping buddies, Tarzan (Kevin Nash), who tells him their old boss Dallas is gone. Mike shows up to what he thinks is a wake, but finds the Kings of Tampa partying in style. (Dallas isn’t dead; he’s just left the country.) They’re about to head off in a frozen yogurt truck for Myrtle Beach, where they are going to participate on one last big blowout dance thingy. (It’s either a convention or a competition; I wasn’t paying that much attention. Honestly, it’s not that kind of movie.) Mike decides to reunite the band and takes off with them. They have fun, but are made a little uncomfortable by Mike’s challenge to create new and original routines by the time they get to Myrtle Beach. They also have some buried resentments to deal with and some new things to learn about each other. So basically, they go on the road, have some adventures, and then we get to see their butts. Also, it’s pretty funny. There’s one gag referencing Twilight that had me laughing so long I felt embarrassed.
So back when 21 Jump Street came out, lots of critics were talking about what a great movie it was because of its awesome portrayal of male friendships. And yes, the friendship between the two male leads was really sweet, if you COMPLETELY ignore the fact the film is a misogynistic piece of crap. I would give all of those accolades to the Magic Mike movies instead. You have a group of racially diverse heterosexual men who manage to work under intimate circumstances while being completely comfortable with themselves and each other. I would have loved for at least one of the main characters to have been gay, but at least the film is homo-friendly. The gay characters in it are treated with respect and no one breaks in with a sad joke when two men have to share a bed or a confidence. It’s great to see a movie about men where they have a good time and be nice to people. It doesn’t maybe make for the most dramatic plot, but there is plenty of room in my life for light entertainment that is actually fun instead of offensive and tiresome.
So, while this movie is mostly about the Tampa Kings and their quest to actually make it to Myrtle Beach and create dance routines from the heart, there are a lot of women in this movie. A lot. And this movie loves them all. In the first movie there was a joke that depended on a woman’s weight to make it funny, but there is none of that here. Magic Mike and the crew stop off to see an old friend of his, Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith) who runs a strip club where women are considered queens. The message of the movie regarding the ladies is not that women are better than men, but they deserve to have their needs met by people who respect them. It’s okay for women to experience pleasure and ask for what they want. The film also does not pit women against each other; most of the women in the film are in friend-groups during their scenes or at least talk to a female friend in the film. And while it is fun for men and women to have sex, it’s also okay for them to be just friends (with flirting of course.) Looking for a perfect summer pleasure? You’ll find a lot of light, bawdy fun here.