Magic Mike XXL full movie review - XXL is for extra extra large..dialogue, boring bits and plot holes
It was a long, odd and unexpected telling of a very short story. I won't go into a synopsis of the story: you can read other reviews for that.
Maybe the marketing of the movie had something to do with the resulting disappointment. Had been marketed as more 'cerebral' then the viewer would be better prepared. But since it was touted as 'hot dancing' that's what you're waiting for. And you do wait.
There's so much dialogue. The script needed a brutal editing: the essential plot points and character 'developments' should have come out much quicker. The dialogue between Mike and the female interest when they meet is obscure. If they had the conversation they have nearly half the movie later, at that point, it would have established the character interplay more effectively. There were quite a few conversations had that make that little voice in your head ask, "What's this about? Why are we getting this information from the character?" Ken and a new character have a long conversation in the front of the car about singing, but it too, could have been edited to make the point more clearly and quickly.
The 'MC-ing' (the Mcconaughy job in the original) was over-done. It slowed the movie down to snail's pace. Stripping is all about ENERGY and the movie had none. It wandered along delving into corners and backing out again without adding value to the plot. (This might be a spoiler) Their truck goes off the road early in the movie because the driver fell asleep and the movie does the same.
The production values were noticeably low. The background sound transitions were non-existent: scenes were just slammed up against each other. This can be for dramatic effect (sparingly) but it was like home video just stuck together. Again, with the two guys in the front of the car, the driver slapped his knee six times while delivering his lines. Those sounds wouldn't be picked up by the boom mic so foley artists would add it back in post production but why? It was an irrelevant distraction to the scene.
Tatum seems very relaxed in his role. Apparently these two Mike movies have loosely been about his performance roots: he was a stripper in his early days. He is listed as a producer but a script writer but maybe he was bringing back 'the old days.' There's nothing wrong with that but you have to bring back the essence, the atmosphere and emotion, not all the detail.
Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer stole the show out from under Tatum's over-grown-skater-dude's nose. These characters
developed, somewhat unevenly, throughout the plot but gave it depth and heart. Without that the movie would have been unwatchable as there would have been nothing left to hold your interest. Yes, there's some skin and a little bit of 'dancing' but there's way better movies for that(even Tatum's STEP was better.)
There were three good scenes which, in order of goodness, were (I don't think these spoil anything):
1. Tatum and the garage table. He's having fun and takes us with him. It's early in the movie and promises good things to come (that don't.)
2. Joe and the drink machine. Again, outright fun while developing the character. It's a pity there wasn't more of this type of scene in the movie. It would have rounded out all the characters.
3. Matt Bomer and "Heaven." I think the girls will like this bit and not for the reason you might think. It was just really touching.
So when the plot finally reaches it's 'peak' it's pretty flat and lacking energy. This is where the voluminous mc-ing from Jada Pinkett Smith is just plain annoying. She played her character well, there was just way toooooo much of it. This whole section of the movie should have been longer(more dancing), but contrastingly, seriously edited to be much tighter (more dancing).
Again, this might be a spoiler, but you get the impression that some of the boy crew can't dance. And If not, I still wouldn't have bothered trying to disguise it. While the plot might have been trying the 'live your dream at least once' angle I don't think that was done the least bit convincingly. I would have dumped (edited) all those ancillary routines into one and cut it very short, and if the mc-ing was still needed (the plot forced it a little) then it could have been put over the top and gotten out of the way much more quickly. It took too long to lead up to too little.
It may sound like I hated it. I didn't. But I certainly didn't love it. Those three scenes saved it for me. Even the surprise that the movie had tried (but somewhat, failed) to have more depth than the marketing would have us believe, was a nice surprise. It's a shame it didn't quite come off. I think an experienced script editor could have easily rescued it.
As for Tatum, I don't know if he's a good actor or just very comfortable in his skin. This movie didn't ask much from him. He delivers his lines with conviction and you get the feeling the dialogue hasn't taken him too far from home. However, I'm hoping this is the last of his over-grown-skater-dude movies. Yes, that's how I described him before and that's how he turns up in most of his movies: big dopey kid cruising around the set with his baseball cap on backwards, and dragging at his over-sized jeans. I think he's capable of much more and hope he goes and tries. As Game of Thrones put it " Kill the boy and let the man take over." Maybe with this XXL meandering down memory lane will let him put the past to rest and he can move on.