The boys are back, but their clothes are still gone!
Magic Mike XXL opened Wednesday, reuniting five strippers from 2012's surprise hit Magic Mike: Ken (Matt Bomer), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tito (Adam Rodríguez) and Mike (Channing Tatum). The Warner Bros. film finds four of the Kings of Tampa ready to retire. But before they can hang up their thongs for good, they ask Mike to join them for one last hurrah at a convention. The road trip to Myrtle Beach is full of surprises, ranging from humorous to heartfelt.
Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn and Alex Pettyfer's characters do not reprise their roles from Steven Soderbergh's film. Instead, director Gregory Jacobs introduces a number of new characters, including Elizabeth Banks as Paris; Donald Glover as Andre; Amber Heard as Zoe; Andie MacDowell as Nancy; Jada Pinkett Smith as Rome; Michael Strahan as Augustus; and tWitch as Malik.
Magic Mike XXL is rated R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use. Here's what critics have to say about the movie, out now:
Claudette Barius/Warner Bros
• "If the first movie strip-teased audiences who thought they were getting a sexy celebration of man-flesh into watching a movie about desperate characters coping with the post-2008 economy, this sequel, for better or worse, delivers what its audience expects, and nothing more," The Wrap's Alonso Duralde writes. The problem with that approach, according to Duralde, is that "too often this movie feels like an overlong finale episode of a long-running TV series, one that assumes that we're really invested in these characters and their desire to hang up their thongs after putting on one last great showcase."
• The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy calls the film "ridiculously entertaining," noting that it lives up "to the extra-extra-large claim of its title." Calling it "brawny and big-hearted," he continues, "This is the love child of a road movie and a let's-put-on-a-show musical, a mixed-breed format that provides a sense of structure and momentum within which almost anything goes." Best of all, he says, "Even if Tatum inevitably comes off as the most favored among equals, everyone in the ensemble gets ample opportunity to shine, including the women in featured roles."
• Vulture's David Edelstein notes that it "doesn't have the same morality-play structure and even seems, at times, like a reversal of its predecessor." According to the critic, "It's sort of like Pitch Perfect 2, only with better music and dancing and less trumped-up conflict." Tatum is a "charming fellow when he plays against his luggishness, batting his eyelashes like a demure little ingénue as his shirts slide off his formidable back." While Tatum lets each of his co-stars "have their moments" to shine, Mike's banter with Zoe "is so wooly and unfocused that I never did figure out who she was supposed to be." According to Edelstein, the film feels as if it were "thrown together quickly and shot on the fly." Even so, he writes, "This is a dumb sequel and everyone's on one level slumming. But they're slumming in style."
• "Rather than trying to replay the first episode and expand on its themes, this installment tosses it all aside like a handyman's tool belt and throws itself headlong into the intoxicating carnality of what is demurely called 'male entertainment.' The plot is as flimsy as a G-string and thoroughly spoiler-proof," The New York Times' A.O. Scott writes. "You can argue with the film's depiction of female desire, but it's hard to quarrel with its exuberance and ingenuity. The dance numbers hum with campy energy, and the quieter moments have a sly, relaxed humor...The guys are mostly straight, but to point out the homoerotic subtext of their friendship would be like discovering a red subtext on a fire engine."
Claudette Barius/Warner Bros
• "For all the glistening, body-glittered beefcake, there's not much meat on these bones," Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt writes. Even so, the guys are "endearingly game" and Banks, MacDowell and Pinkett Smith "have good fun with underwritten roles." That said, she writes, Jacobs lacks Soderbergh's "ability to elevate material that is essentially one lamé thong away from a TLC reality series."
• Rolling Stone's Peter Travers calls the comedy a "rambling, loosey-goosey road trip." Mike's hookup with Zoe "feels like filler," but even that isn't as problematic as "the absence of a scene-stealing Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, the Kings' preening MC." Overall, Travers writes, the movie "delivers rowdy, raunchy fun, but without McConaughey, it's a long way from 'awright, awright, awright.'"
Claudette Barius/Warner Bros
• "There's a sense that the genders have inverted," L.A. Weekly's Amy Nicholson writes. "The dudes dance because they're desperate for money, yet every woman in their world is flush with cash...In the climax, the ladies shed tens of thousands of singles until they literally bury the men in mint green. They're paying—somehow—for fantasy. What, then, is their reality? They complain about offstage men who are frigid cads, but even these good-looking charmers prefer to be in a boys-only van bonding with one another." The men, by contrast, "aren't sexy with a grown man's confidence, the way George Clooney can look at a woman as if he's picturing her without clothes. Instead, they're daffy and insecure, almost innocent. XXL is a topless, sticky-wet movie where almost no one is having sex." However, Tatum still "makes his movements feel improvised even when they're not."
• The Los Angeles Times' Rebecca Keegan calls Magic Mike XXL "a road picture with only the skimpiest thong of a plot." Itss "non-thrusting minutes" are filled with "stultifying dialogue and head-scratching scenes of male bonding." What's worse, she writes, is that the female characters (Banks, Heard, MacDowell and Pinkett Smith) "make even these cartoon men look like portraits of complexity." Apart from Tatum, the movie's "most valuable player is its choreographer, Alison Faulk."
Do you plan to see Magic Mike XXL? Sound off in the comments!