Recently, I was in a dance appreciation class where one of the male students wanted to talk about twerking yet all the video examples he brought for us to view were of women twerking. I asked about men twerking and that kind of weirded him out. Apparently, he hadn’t seen the 2012 movie “Magic Mike” or imagined that women would find something more vigorous and articulated than the Elvis Pelvis erotic. “Magic Mike XXL” expands the focus on the male dancers compared to its predecessor. The previous movie was darker; this one celebrates the the bonding of single sex dancers during a road trip.

Yes this is part bromance and part road trip film, but to be sure there is plenty of dancing. While F-bombs fly, we won’t see flying penises but flashing cheeks of the nether regions. There’s no full frontal nudity. The men wear their thongs, but keep their dicks covered.

“Magic Mike XXL” is a more positive movie than its predecessor and relies more heavily on Channing Tatum and his gang of male entertainers (strippers). Gone is the slick and sleazy Dallas (played with admirable oily charm by Matthew McConaughey) and the young, misguided horn-dog Adam (Alex Pettyfer).

For those who didn’t see the 2012 “Magic Mike,” Tatum played the titular character, the lead dancer at a male strip club owned by Dallas, a former stripper and now money-grubbing manager and owner of a Tampa club. Magic Mike introduces Adam to the lifestyle and Adam, a directionless college dropout, plunges in, loving the easy money, easy sex and gets a little entrepreneurial with a drug dealing on the side. Adam has a responsible sister, Brooke, who eventually couples up with Mike. Mike leaves the lifestyle for a more settled life and to start his own custom furniture business.

“Magic Mike XXL” opens up three years later. Dallas has departed for a better market in Macau and taken with him Adam. Brooke has left Mike soon after he proposed. Mike has started his company, but has to struggle with his one employee. Out of the blue, he gets a call from his old dance crew and they convince him to show up and join their last chance road trip from Tampa to Myrtle Beach for the annual male stripper convention. He joins Ken (Matt Bomer), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello) and Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) along with the old DJ and Ecstacy dealer Tobias (Cabriel Iglesias) and they begin the journey in a gourmet truck specializing in yogurt. Along they way, the men enter a queen dance contest and a pick up a new DJ and some new crew members after they lose their old DJ and the truck is in an accident.

As the other contemplate life after the convention when they’ll have to find something to do besides stripping, Mike meets a potential new love interest (Amber Heard) and one of the guys finds his Cinderella (Andie MacDowell).

“Magic Mike XXL” is a more positive movie, emphasizing the camaraderie between the dancers and even showing how a little sexually-charged flirtation can be emotionally healing to some, such as the recently bitterly divorced.  If you’re thinking that the dancing is too overtly sexual remember that before Miley Cyrus was twerking, the young kids were doing that and more on the dance floor. Part of the urban dance trend has been basically dry sex or dry humping in public.

Tatum was a stripper and the original movie was inspired by his experiences. With McConaughey out of the picture, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning Bomer has a more prominent role here although the third degree reiki healer schtick is less convincing than his wanna-be actor who can sing characterization. His vocal talents are balanced by the rapping of the Grammy-nominated Glover. The dance numbers are different and there’s even a let’s-make-a-last-minute-show urgency to justify the new dance numbers. The dance highlight is a match up between Tatum and “So You Think You Can Dance” alum tWitch. While Tatum was in the original “Step Up” and “Step Up2: The Streets,” tWitch played Jason in “Step Up 3D.” 

As with the Step Up series, you don’t go for good dialogue or convincing plot devices. You go to see dancing and in this case, you go to see men with etched abs and chesticles (DWTS fans will understand)and some cheek flashing. For those who appreciate the male form, there’s a lot of it and this time, their purpose in life is to make their female audience feel like royalty, even if only for a brief moment.

 

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