MAGIC MIKE XXL is a shameless cash-in: a movie ordained inevitable by the popularity of the original rather than by any narrative necessity. Three years after Magic Mike quits stripping to set up house with The Kid's sister, his old stripper friends give him a prank call and invite him to a stripper convention for a kind of all-or-nothing retirement stripathon. It's all a little shaky and fuzzy as motives go. To be sure, Mike's post-stripping life hasn't been a success: his business is struggling and his girl has left him. But to go by the depiction of stripping shown in this film, why on earth would he ever have left? MAGIC MIKE XXL depicts a utopian world where strippers are ARTISTS and where by catering to women's whims they empower these "queens" and bring them a kind of sexual healing. Accordingly, when Mike meets Zoe - an ex-stripper, maybe addict, down on her luck - he knows deep in his heart and groin that all she really needs is a cutting edge lap dance to bring her mojo back. Better living through thongs. And so the movie unfolds as a kind of hippie dippie drug- and sex-fuelled road-trip to the convention where the kindness of strangers gets our motley crew of strippers through the night. I must admit that Gregory Jacobs and Channing Tatum's script and the men's acting does deliver an authentic feeling of male camaraderie. But Jada Pinkett Smith is no match for the absent Matthew McConaughey as the MC, and there's no real depth to anything in the film - nothing to keep us going. And as for the routines and Troy from Community's rapping topless, awkward rather than sexy, I would say. Worst of all is the A-team style training montage where the boys put their new routines, costumes and sets together for the competition finale. Let's hope this is the end of this particular franchise.
MAGIC MIKE XXL has a running time of 115 minutes and is rated R. The movie is global release.