A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs, 2015)

I liked Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh, 2012). It was the work of a major Hollywood director with a charismatic performance by Matthew McConaughey and a well-turned plot, and it dealt with a subject, male strippers, that hadn't been done to death on screen. But the sequel has none of those things. McConaughey is missing, and although Soderbergh is credited as executive producer and (under his pseudonym "Peter Andrews") as cinematographer, the direction has been turned over to Gregory Jacobs, assistant director on many of Soderbergh's films. The screenplay by Reed Carolin, who wrote the earlier film, is long on incident but short on plot: There is little in the way of conflict or obstacles to build momentum for the story. It simply boils down to "the boys" -- an apt epithet for these middle-aged victims of Peter Pan syndrome -- trying to avoid the responsibility of career and family a little while longer. Instead of coming to terms with their problems, the film simply allows them to triumph at what they know they can't keep doing forever. Okay, yes, there is fun to be had here anyway: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, and Adam Rodriguez are good-looking actors with a great deal of skill at flaunting their attributes. There are good contributions by Andie MacDowell as a lecherous aging Southern belle and especially by Jada Pinkett Smith as Rome, the proprietor of a private club where women can indulge their sexual fantasies. And what message the film has is a positive one: an affirmation of female sexual desire. It's not a bad movie, but just an unnecessary one.