Thursday, July 28, 2016

Now on HBO: Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Magic Mike XXL (2015) - Directed by Gregory Jacobs; Written by Reid Carolin; Starring Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Strahan, Donald Glover, Andie McDowell, Elizabeth Banks.

By Kenny Howell

The two Magic Mike films work best in two areas.

The first is when the expertly choreographed dance scenes are chewing up the screen, and the second is when the small moments of the characters outside of the lavish dance routines are captured.

It's an odd balance that worked fairly well in the first film, but is not quite as abundant in the second.

Mike has been out of the game for three years after he left the in the first film to run his own business. With things not going so well, Mike meets up with his old buds, and they convince him that he needs to go with them to Myrtle Beach, SC for one last big performance. Of course he goes because there wouldn't be a movie without it.

The great dance scenes that filled the first one are few and far between in this one. Early in the film, Mike catches one of his favorite songs on the radio in his workshop, and does a small, improvised routine, and it may be the best of the film. There is one in the finale that is quite impressive as well, but the rest seem to quickly get to just straight up grinding much too quickly.

To balance out Tatum's excellent work in the first dance scene (he is also part of the best one in the finale), he is incredibly charming in the smaller scenes, particularly when he is wooing Zoe (Heard), a woman he met at a beach party. It never ceases to amaze me how talented he is, and he may be solidifying himself as one of the most versatile, bankable actors around. Whether it is comedies like 22 Jump Street, or dramas like Foxcatcher, Tatum has a terrific, well-rounded ability.

The rest of the film is filled with over the top comedic moments that seem as staged as the dancer's performances. It cheapens it a bit, but Magic Mike XXL is still much better than you would expect it to be.

Magic Mike XXL is now playing on HBO.

Rating: **1/2

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