Any film that spends a sixth of its running time watching its lead characters take ecstasy and following the come-on, the high and the come-down is not playing by the rules. Magic Mike XXL plays by nobody’s rules. Practically plot-free (and, with the exception of a couple of moments in the beginning, totally conflict-free, thereby violating the first rule of drama), the film is a like a free-form experiment in jollity and humanity. It is also, easily, the feel-good movie of the year thus far, and the funniest. My goodness, is it the funniest.
Whereas the first film, directed by Steven Soderbergh and based on the early career of its star Channing Tatum, was a sexy melodrama, Magic Mike XXL, directed by Gregory Jacobs and who knows if it is based on anything, is a sexy comedy, and the comedy is unique. There is not a single line in this film that feels like a written gag, yet it has at least thirty laugh-out loud moments and a million more chuckles. My mouth ached after the screening, I’d been smiling so much.
Instead of jokes, there is simply repartee. Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and the absurdly deadpan Kevin Nash play five male strippers travelling from Tampa, Florida to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to participate in a male stripper convention. Along the way they have fun, and so do we. That’s it. That’s totally it.
But what fun we have! These guys are an incredible delight to hang out with, and the talent they represent is unbelievable. Each can spin a joke, a character, an outrageous dance move – and they all look like their bodies were sculpted by Michaelangelo in his ab period. It’s ludicrous how much ease they display, while obviously presenting such deep reserves of natural skill and immense rehearsal.
The film is full of throwaway moments – at one very moving point, Nash’s character Tarzan reveals that he’ll never have kids or a wife – that are never resolved, because the movie doesn’t play by screenwriting rules, and leaves endless questions, events and suggestions dangling. It’s all about character, and these characters are just absolutely freaking delightful.
See this movie. See it in a crowded cinema. It’s a riot.