Magic Mike XXL ★★★★


First twenty minutes are tepid - aside from Tatum's two dances which are wonderful showcases of his true ability as a performer - and had me very worried the dissolution in the final act of MAGIC MIKE would consume this thing in its entirety. (Doesn't help that a big chunk is purely expository catch-up, either.) Much to my surprise, however, once the boys hit the road and Richie does his "I Want It That Way" routine to a catatonic convenience store clerk, the movie ditches all aspirations of being "about" something, teaching a lesson, or having a moral thesis and instead indulges in a salacious revelry of sexual appetency from the underrepresented point-of-view of females; strangely refreshing in the way it relishes the male body as an object of desire for women - a means of momentary libidinous escape and nothing else - especially considering how lopsided the cinema industry (or world, for that matter) is in the opposite direction viz. using gratuitous female nudity whenever possible, called for or not, as a form of magnetism. At its core, this is a bro hang-out movie - for a fresh comparison, its fundamental intentions are no different than those of EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! only with male stripping routines in lieu of going to baseball practice and campus dive bars - that, despite its surface-level lewdness, maintains a genuinely heartfelt demeanor from start to finish without getting weighed down by anything other than having a good time. The voltage drop of McConaughey’s absence is, but Tatum & Co. each pick up a piece of the slack and by the end, it hardly matters that Dallas is missing. Electrifying performances across the board, especially the final hurrah in which each subsequent dancer's personalized sketch is better than the last (sorry Tarzan), leading up to Tatum's brilliantly choreographed mirror sequence. It's a shitload of fun, packed with insane kinetic energy during the shows, general tomfoolery during the downtime, and nothing belaboring the superficial enjoyment in search of "something meaningful,” other than its genuine/intrinsic message of acceptance. And if you wholeheartedly think the movie is no good, that's one thing. But I legitimately pity the guys who've dismissed it on the predication of their own homophobic sexual insecurity—what a stupid thing to be "afraid" of (and a piss poor justification, either way).

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