Magic Mike XXL – Review ***

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As Slavoj Zizek once said, “Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn’t give you what you desire – it tells you how to desire.” What do we desire? Hot men taking their clothes off in amazing choreographies. What did we get? A road movie… during which, sometimes, hot men take their clothes off in amazing choreographies. Close enough.

For the few that actually care about story, plot, and all that jazz, Mike (Channing Tatum) has lost his magic in favour of following his dream of designing furniture and living a content life with his girl, away from taking his clothes off for money. You know, house, family and wood works, the American Dream. Only he already lost the girl when the film starts and he doesn’t seem to be booming on his honest manual job either. Luckily for him, the old gang is in the neighbourhood, on their way to Male Stripper Convention at Myrtle Beach. They lost manager Dallas for an Academy Award, and are putting everything on what they call their last show. Obviously, Mike ends up joining them, because reasons. They hit the road, invent new routines “from the heart” and make a bang, while being showered in dollars and conquering hearts on the way.

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Magic Mike XXL may not be as strong as the first installment (Soderbergh stepped down to exec producer/cinematographer leaving Gregory Jacobs in the directing chair), but it is extremely funnier. This is a film that does not take itself seriously, and goes tongue in cheek whenever it has a chance. Whether making Richie (Joe Manganiello) curse vampire fiction things, or making Tatum dance all over his carpentry warehouse – yes, as ridiculous and sexy as it sounds – the film goes in for the kill, advocating men to listen to women and ask them what they want. Truthfully, another thing this film tried hard was to put more female characters on the mix – including Zoe (Amber Heard) as Mike’s new love interest, Rome (badass Jada Pinkett Smith) who helps the boys get it together as a favour to old flame Mike (do we see a theme here?) and, best of all because so unexpected, Andie MacDowell as Nancy, a Southern divorcee that happens to be the perfect glass slipper fit for Richie (use your dirty imagination on that one).

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Still very enjoyable, it may have too much of a feeble and rushed plot and too little half naked dance numbers for, you know, a film about male strippers (though the ones that it has, mostly outside a stage situation, are incredible – only to see Manganiello dance at the sound of “I want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys at a station shop is definitely worth the ticket price). So go on, watch it. No one will judge you. It’s silly season after all.

Magic Mike XXL will be in UK cinemas from 3rd July 2015

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.