With fantasy gloss oozing from every unblemished pore, Magic Mike XXL sees the Kings of Tampa‘s chiselled physiques reunite one last time for a definitively whimsical road trip. Diverting from the innovative complexity of Steven Soderbergh's original Magic Mike, the raunchily ripped sequel straddles its knowing sense of ridiculousness with a sultry wink.
With grinding now strictly limited to his fledgling custom carpentry business, Mike Lane (Tatum) starts to contemplate if the mundane grass is really always greener. The former stripper’s alter ego is released in a late night workshop session thanks to Ginuwine’s infamous track Pony, which leads to hypnotically precise choreography signifying the lean, mean, dancing machine is missing the expressive freedom of the stage.
Director Jacob has constructed a lighter arc compared to the dark under belly of XXL’s predecessor, mixing vibrant exhibition with sensitive personal subtleties. When punked into reconciling with his former troupe, The Tampa Boys, Mike laps up the opportunity for an escapist jaunt to Myrtle Beach in the hopes of chasing glory at the annual stripper convention.
While the glistening dance routines may be provocatively cruder, it’s the group’s new life horizons that give the narrative scope, peering tentatively into a future with more than just physical prowess to fall back on. Occasionally veering towards a "bros" version of the Apprentice, (enough business ideas are thrown around to make Alan Sugar’s ears burn), the boyish charm of bonding through existential career crises is affectively relatable.
The sexual superficial sheen may be heavy at first, but Magic Mike XXL is a multi-layered treat that ranges from the shallow to the emotively engaging with any part being a delight to gorge on.