Magic Mike XXL (Warner Bros., R)

MMXXL 75This film does do its job.






Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) has a problem. He’s been out of the stripper game for three years, and while things are going for him, they aren’t going well. His girl left and took the dog. His business is up and running, but his one employee is a family man who’d like some health insurance and Mike simply can’t afford it. He spends his free time working alone, and it’s clear that this isn’t what he had in mind for his new and improved G-string-less life.

What he needs is a distraction, and when he gets a call from an old buddy, that’s exactly what he gets. It’s not long before Mike is back with the gang. Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) are heading to Myrtle Beach for a stripper convention and Mike decides to tag along for the weekend shenanigans.

What follows might the world’s first male stripper road trip movie where comic sexual hijinks ensue. And, really, if someone made an earlier male stripper road trip movie and comic sexual hijinks didn’t ensue, they didn’t quite do their job.

I was completely prepared for a fail going in to Magic Mike XXL, but this film does do its job. The movie is silly, but everyone involved gets the joke and is along to entertain and give the people (ok, the women) what they want.

When Mike first leaves with his friends, there are some moments of clunky dialogue and pacing. But, after a ridiculous and totally avoidable accident, the story takes off and delivers a surprisingly steady stream of laughs. Along the way, the guys meet a moody gas station clerk, a gaggle of game girls, daring drag queens and some horny, rich housewives.

The film also delves a bit into Mike’s past. A stop in Savannah introduces us to Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), a former paramour who runs a big money male strip club housed in a mansion, who appears to have given Mike his start in the business.

Tatum and his stripping cohorts, who also include Donald Glover, Stephen “tWitch” Boss and an almost unrecognizable Michael Strahan, are capable of rolling with the camp while bringing some warmth to the (albeit few) serious moments. Pinkett Smith, for her part, gives Rome the sly, sexy man-eater qualities of Fish Mooney from Gotham, but with less chance of her stabbing your eyeball out with one of her dangerously pointed talons.

Now, let’s get to the part of MMXXL that really matters; the stripping. There are a couple of of-the-cuff routines that are hilariously sexy in the best way. When we get to the strip showdowns at Rome’s and the convention, however, things go from silly-sexy to just plain hot. The sequences from Bomer, Manganiello and a joint performance from Boss and Tatum aren’t just, uh…motivating, but well-planned and choreographed.

Ladies? Prep your bachelorette parties and girls’ nights now. Magic Mike XXL is perfect for you. | Adrienne Jones

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