Magic Mike XXL Has All The Right Moves, But That's About It.

Magic Mike XXL.
Director: Gregory Jacobs.
Writer: Reid Carolin.
Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez.
Playing At: Wide.

Despite bringing back most of the gang, Magic Mike XXL lives small. Small stakes, small outfits, small brains. The plot is as threadbare as the skivvies the guys often wear.

Mike (Channing Tatum), who got out of the exotic dancing game, is no longer Magic. His girlfriend left and his legitimate business isn’t exactly booming. He's more like Sad-Sack Mike. But it's no more than 15 minutes before he's back to dancing, joining the crew on a road trip to a convention in Myrtle Beach. Is there some big cash prize or any major reason for this trip?

No, and it shows.

While Channing Tatum was the star of the original, it was Matthew McConaughey who unsurprisingly stole the show as veteran dancer Dallas. And, for sure, his magnetic presence is sorely missed here, as the guys he left behind are either depressing or annoying, especially when not dancing.

Yes, the dances routines, as expected, are extremely well-choreographed. But the conversations that happen between those scenes are just mind-boggingly inane. It's really hard to care about the fourth-billed actor's character and his dreams of opening an artisanal frozen yogurt truck, or about whether one dancer’s chakras are giving off bad vibes. Also, the less said about Kevin Nash’s Tarzan, the better.

It's not until the guys wind up at title character Mike's old haunts in Savannah, getting a tour of a lavish club run by Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith as the only female character with any substance whatsoever here) that the movie finds any life at all. There, the guys learn a few tricks from several African-American dancers — Twitch, Donald Glover and, um, Michael Strahan — and discover that their purpose in dancing is to make the ladies feel desirable. A massive revelation? Maybe not, but it's a light-bulb moment for this ripped, but burned out, crew.

And the movie indeed feels much freer after this moment as the guys prepare to perform at the Myrtle Beach convention. You wanted a training montage? You got a training montage! You also get a wildly entertaining finale, regardless of whether six-pack abs are your thing. That scene gets to what much of the audience came to see, while dropping both the dialogue and pretense — a fine concession in this case, as both of those things are fairly terrible here.

Unless it’s part of a night out with some friends, it’s probably best to wait until this one hits the DVD market. Then you can just skip to the good parts or maybe watch the thing on mute.

As is, the only magic here is in the dance numbers.

Grade: C.

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