Monday, August 3, 2015

Magic Mike XXL (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Magic Mike XXL

Here is "Magic Mike XXL," a sequel that does its best to be a conceptual tribute to the Beach Blanket Bingo films of old, in addition to the dance films of the 80s such as "Breakin'." The content might be skinny as a rail, but the film has enough kitsch and charm to pad its slight form.

Beefcake abounds and for those salivating for a bare torso or two, the second chapter doesn't disappoint.

The Kings of Tampa are without Dallas (portrayed by Matthew McConaughey ) but Mike (Channing Tatum) is summoned to consolidate the gang for a stripper convention.

The story starts with Mike as a furniture maker leaving stripping behind,  except perhaps for the varnishing of tables. But alone in the wood shop, when the croaky riffs of Ginuwine hits the speakers, Mike and his power-drill starts to spin. After all, you can't  expect him to stay still, can you? This is some of the best dancing in the film, similar to Michael Chambers in "Breakin'" from last century, when Turbo danced with a broom. If a broom seemed cool in 1984, why not a drill today?

Say what you will about Tatum's line delivery, the camera loves him. The music fits perfectly with the kinetic foolery on screen that borders on slapstick.

Mike hits the road with Rick (Joe Manganiello), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tarzan (Kevin Nash ), and Tobias (comedian Gabriel Iglesias).

The dialogue doesn't have much going for it, as it concerns girls, work and the fact that both of those elements are absent. But every liney is given such an flat tone that one can almost predict that this generic speech might soon be recited verbatim as in a Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Just when things get a little sleepy, Mr. Manganiello does a very funny number winding on the floor like a snake to liven things up again. Such a routine makes little sense but this gives the action a strange shot in the arm. You might feel a little like a voyeur. The film has a definite quirk and never takes itself seriously.

The boys stop in Savannah, dropping in on a silly group of risqué performers who simulate sex. Football star Michael Strahan is one of the dancers. The entire floor is shellacked with dollar bills.

Money is everything.

This segment contains a bit of philosophy in spite of itself. Male dancers are healers in this episode hired to make ladies feel good. No need for headaches, though. This is as deep as it gets.

Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith) soon appears as a catty MC and does well along with current screen siren Amber Heard as a troubled valentine preoccupied with cake and cross-dressing.

Transparent and shallow as it is with dialogue that would fit General Hospital, the film has an offhand charge and an immediacy that gives it a weird life in spite of its bland nature. With its full closeups of Tatum's shoulders which resemble big screen boulders, the director gives Warhol's worship of Joe Dallesandro a run for his shirt.

Even without the wonder of director Steven Soderbergh who gave the first "Magic Mike" its juice with his arresting camera angles, this outing directed by Gregory Jacobs packs enough punch through its rousing nightshade gyrations.

Just in its abundance of flesh as the characters tumble and whirl about tossing women about like dinosaurs flinging their prey, "Magic Mike XXL" is a mirror of our times. All is in a whirl. Our century is a highly sexualized ADD carnival where voices are both rapid and monotone, virtual possibilities are a hundred fold and the runway over reason, rules the day.

In addition to being a contemporary beach movie, "Magic Mike" and its sequel complements the "Fast and Furious" films. Instead of cars and speed, there is dance, and emotional manipulation as the new machismo, unbound by social mores, yet perfectly in synch with capitalism.

Write Ian at

No comments: