For a movie about the chronicles of a male stripper, Magic Mike proved to be a surprise by garnering mostly positive acclaim from both the critics and the viewers in 2012. That positive feedback led to Magic Mike XXL, a sequel that has now hit theaters to prove that male strippers can’t only pull off one movie, but two.
The film opens three years after Mike’s (Channing Tatum) career-switch from being a stripper to managing his own furniture-crafting business, showing us the not-so-magical side of the character. Not long after, events find him riding a van with what’s left of the Kings of Tampa as they try to reclaim their past glory one more time at Myrtle Beach.
Magic Mike XXL somehow manages to offer a fresh take at the adventures of Mike and his buddies and yet remain very similar to its predecessor. All the best elements of the first film are preserved in the second, while the drama and Cody Horn’s horrible performance were left behind. That, alone, is a good thing, but Magic Mike XXL doesn’t stop there and actually improves some of its aspects.
The comedy in this sequel is much, much better than that of the original. The characters are given a more light-hearted approach and the screen time they deserve, an approach that gives the audience a lot more of Joe Manganiello’s hilarious portrayal of Richie and ultimately proves as a major plus for the movie.
What really works of Magic Mike XXL (and its predecessor, for that matter) is that the film is not a vulgar take on sexuality and masculinity. The sequel is, above all, the story of six friends who are facing the impending exit from their comfort zone as they can no longer keep doing what they once did best. Without delving too deep into the drama such an idea can impose, and through the decently choreographed dance sequences and the well-written joke scenes, director Gregory Jacobs and writers Reid Carolin and Tatum himself tell that sort-of existential story , and they do it well.
The movie, however, does have its faults. Though not one of the 130 minutes was wasted, the run-time remains a long one for such a film. Magic Mike XXL was simply too long and a bit tiring. That last part was mainly caused by uneven pacing throughout that hefty run-time, where the plot alternated between slow and fast at a displeasing rate.
Magic Mike XXL surprisingly surpasses its predecessor by not trying to be something that it’s not and focusing more on what audiences want to see in a film of the genre. Though it suffers from a tiring run-time and uneven pacing, the improved comedy and character dynamics make this sequel one worth a watch.