July 28, 2015

Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Channing Tatum & co.

First, let's address the elephant in the room: that this movie was such a terrible idea that even Matthew McConaughey didn't want to be involved. This guy thought it was a good idea to make those ridiculous Lincoln commercials, but Magic Mike the sequel was too far apparently. 

Anyway, you know how Sex and the City the movie was made, and people enjoyed it, mostly? Then they decided to cash in on a sequel despite really having no plot or reason to make it other than the obvious? Yeah, this is like that. Except that instead of using the movie to showcase ridiculous costume changes by Carrie & co, this just kept trying to find places to put in awkward stripper interludes. Like, if you've ever wondered what Channing Tatum would look like humping a nail gun on top of a table and making sexual innuendos with a piece of metal, this is the movie for you.

It's not like anyone with a rational mind could go into this movie expecting much of anything, plot-wise. Yet, it's still somehow shocking how poorly stitched together it all is. Aging male strippers, off for a final hurrah at a stripper convention, for which they'll spend time and money in preparation, but with no competition or incentive at the end of it, other than to "put on a show?" Really? Because they just love stripping that much? Again, no one is watching this for the plot, but even that's hard to overlook.

Ironically, at the same time, the movie sporadically tries to be a little too deep. It delves into the inner beings of the guys (as if strippers have personalities and dreams!) and tries to be somewhat serious about their prospective futures. It's weird. Mostly because I can't reconcile the juxtaposition of that guy from White Collar talking about wanting to be a singer before humping a middle-aged women on a couch next to Andie MacDowell. Yes, that Andie MacDowell. 

She's not the most uncomfortable cameo, however. It's not Michael Strahan as a stripper, humping a large woman either. (There's a lot of humping in this movie in case you hadn't caught that yet.) Or Elizabeth Banks as, well, I'm not sure who she is supposed to be. No, the most uncomfortable famous person in this movie is undeniably Jada Pinkett Smith, who sort of ruined the movie for me. Yes, I just said she ruined a stripper movie with a paper-thin plot. Let me explain.

Jada's character replaces McConaughey's character, which is already a tough sell. I mean, no one can do sleaze mixed with comedy like McConaughey. So instead, she tries to sell "sexy" by walking in this weird exaggerated slow motion with a cocked fedora, calling everyone "queen." It's horrifying. However, not quite as horrifying as the fact that we're expected to believe she and Tatum were an item, which is the worst romantic pairing since Julianne Moore and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Don Jon.

This movie would have been vastly improved had it stopped trying to pretend it was a real movie and fully embraced the ridiculousness of it. i.e. not create another lame quasi-love interest for Tatum who is basically a slightly cuter version of the inexplicably angry girl in the first movie. Her character was actually less necessary than Pinkett's character, which is saying something.

But no one watches a movie like this for the women; you watch it for mostly naked hot men and on that point, they deliver. I don't know if it's because I was distracted by the "plot" of the first movie, but I'm pretty sure everyone got more attractive in this movie. Even Channing Tatum. I take back everything I said about him in my 22 Jump Street review. As my [female] movie companion sighed as the credits rolled, "I got my money's worth."

Final word: Like every other "dance-based" movie, really the only final 15 minutes are worth watching. But that 15 minutes....

Related: Magic Mike

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