WHEN Magic Mike came out in 2012, women cinemagoers everywhere rejoiced. It felt like the start of something. Sick and tired of seeing women in movies objectified time and again, all women owe a debt to director Steven Soderbergh. He struck gold with this tale about male strippers, which blends comedy with a little risqué dancing featuring an assortment of
underdressed hunks and a bunch of female extras lapping it up.And it was so successful, it spawned a sequel – suggestively, and
promisingly, entitled Magic Mike XXL. Directed this time by Gregory Jacobs, but penned by the same writer (Reid Carolin), it’s a few years on from the events of the first, and the titular Mike (Channing Tatum) is focusing on his furniture-making business, having settled down and left the stripping behind. But when the opportunity to pick up where he left off comes around, he reluctantly figures he’s nothing to lose (his business is struggling, his lady left him) and hits the road with his old pals – including Mr Sofia Vergara, Joe Manganiello) –for a road-trip adventure. The destination? The ultimate showcase for their unique talents – Myrtle Beach’s annual stripper convention.
In Magic Mike XXL, Jacobs has built on Soderbergh’s original and essentially crafted an Ocean’s Eleven-type ensemble piece that relies on the chemistry and banter between its mismatched group of male leads. The only real difference is its backdrop. Where Ocean’s Eleven deals with a charismatic gang of criminals plotting heists, Magic Mike XXL is about a charismatic gang of male entertainers plotting their comeback.
Blending in a road movie structure, Magic Mike XXL is an episodic series of set pieces designed to draw in its predominantly female target audience. While much of it is harmless fun, it also feels manipulative and there’s a danger you’ll feel thoroughly worked. Each man is designed to appeal to the stereotyped notion of what women want – each is sensitive in his own way but also loyal and looking for ‘the one’. They know how to treat a woman and at the same time they’re overtly sexual, taking charge where it counts. However, with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, you’ll most likely forgive it for playing you, and give in to its masculine wiles. With a welcome cameo from the fragrant Andie MacDowell – who deserves more screen time in not just this but other Hollywood films – Magic Mike XXL makes entertaining viewing, and a refreshing antidote to the usual diet of films featuring scantily clad women in sexy roles we’re fed.
Roll on number three.
Magic Mike XXL (15)
Running time1hr 55mins
If the Living Art Hungerford gallery were a band, curator Justin Cook would have cited “artistic differences” as the reason for his departure. He has now cut loose from the family firm to do his own thing at ‘Oil’, just a few doors down the road. TRISH LEE spoke to him about his new gallery, which recently launched with an exhibition in its ‘Boiler Room’