Magic Mike XXL begins three years after the original. Mike (Channing Tatum) has left the world of stripping behind, following his dream of making and selling custom-made furniture. He gets a call from his old exotic dancers: "Big Dick" Richie (Joe Maganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), and Tarzan (Kevin Nash). They tell Mike that Dallas is gone and the rest of them will be taking a trip from Tampa to a stripper's convention in Myrtle Beach, SC, with Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias) driving and M.C.ing for them. Mike passes, but back in his workshop a rap song on the radio gets him swinging and dancing all over -- and next thing you know, he's in the FroYo van heading to the convention!
Along the way, the group wings up getting into various adventures, from an upscale women's club to a gay bar. The group also meets a number of interesting people: Zoe (Amber Heard), a cool and disaffected young woman who may be Mike's new love interest; Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), a successful female empowerer and MC, and her brother Andre (Donny Glover), a sexy crooner; and Nancy (Andie MacDowell), a woman who is more than happy her daughter invited five male strippers to crash at their home.
While Magic Mike balanced the eye-candy of male stripping with the search for something beyond that life, Magic Mike XXL is a much more superficial movie. There's no real conflict or suspense (every setback on the trip is solved very easily and quickly), and while a few characters wonder what they'll do after the big convention, there's no real thought or speculation as to what they'll do when the ride ends. Also, every scene between the start and finish could be played in random order with little impact on the movie.
What Magic Mike XXL does deliver is fun. Apart from the sexy, incredibly stylized dance numbers, there are plenty of laughs, whether it's the guys bickering about their issues, their ridiculously sexy routines (including one of the funniest scenes with Backstreet Boys music ever), or Ken's continual new age theories. This movie also gives more interaction between Mike and his buddies, as this time they're not just background to the relationship with the Kid from the first movie.
Magic Mike XXL is superficial and enjoyable at the same time. There's not much to think about, but it's fun to watch.
Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch