WARNING: This is a movie recap so it will be entirely composed of spoilers. If you’re thinking there’s a plot twist in Magic Mike XXL you don’t want to know about until you behold this movie’s glory on the silver screen, read no further.
Let’s get one thing out of the way–Magic Mike Vol. 1 was not a good movie. I loved it but it was terrible—no plot, terrible acting, and it was pretty dark, gloomy and depressing unless there was bared man flesh available for our delectation.
Magic Mike XXL is an entirely different movie. Believe it or not, this is an actually good movie—thoroughly entertaining, charming, well-intentioned, big-hearted, and well produced, directed, and acted. Magic Mike XXL is Oscar worthy, especially for sound design and the shameless exposure of taut male abdominal muscles. I would give this movie all the Oscars and a few extras.
Magic Mike XXL is, I am willing to argue, a (bad?) feminist movie. Why? This movie caters, at all times, to the female gaze. It is queer friendly. The movie embraces women of all sizes. The movie embraces consent and places an emphasis on women’s sexual pleasure. I wish I had something really smart to say here but this movie felt feminist. The movie treated women like they were sentient beings rather than sexual objects and the movie boldly celebrated women’s sexuality. The men were simply there to serve and satisfy, as they should be.
I saw the movie in a crowded theatre populated with women of all ages and a smattering of men who seemed to be reluctant boyfriends and husbands. I am quite certain those women and I synced our cycles at the screening. Collectively, we shared an intensely erotic experience.
When the movie opens, the most perfect man in the world, Channing Tatum aka Magic Mike Lane is following his dream of building furniture and stuff. He even has a truck with his name on it! And one employee! We all start somewhere. Here is Magic Mike working hard for the money. Let’s take a moment to admire the musculature in his arms.
Some things happen that don’t matter because everyone is fully clothed and then Mike gets a phone call from the old gang. (It has been three years since they were last together.) Dallas (greasy Matthew McConaughey) and “the kid” (that Alex Pettyfer character who was desperately out of place in the first movie) have gone off on their own to make a go of male entertaining in Macau. Anyway, they tell Mike that Dallas is gone so he assumes gone is dead and shows up to a wake at a hotel wearing a suit (and looking excellent), only to discover it’s a pool party. The gang is going to have one last hurrah before they strip their ways into the sunset. Road trip to the stripper convention in Myrtle Beach!
Yes, this is a road trip movie.
Magic Mike wishes the gang well and goes home where alas, he is all alone. Oh, how I would comfort him. He’s in his workshop making furniture, and suddenly, Magic Mike cannot contain himself any longer. He has to dance, okay? The dance is everything.
We hear the first erotic notes of Ginuwine’s “Pony,” which JUST HAPPENS to come on the radio as Magic Mike holds a long metal thing against a grinder. GRIND GRIND GRIND!!!
Magic Mike begins to rock his hips as he grinds his long metal thing (LOLOLOL) and before long he is dancing like the beautiful dancer he was born to be. He gyrates and does gymnastics around the workshop. Mmmm. Yes.
He simulates sexual intercourse with several objects and surfaces, but like, the good kind. Magic Mike puts his back into it, is what I am saying. He breaks a delicious sweat. Women in the audience were all bosoms heaving and breathless. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I even clapped, CLAP CLAP CLAP! I was so happy. I felt every thrust, and I felt those thrusts everywhere.
Boring things happen and the male entertainers head out on the open road. They travel in a food truck that is the future business of Tobias and Tito. These fellas are going to make artisanal fro yo and deejay out of the truck. It makes sense if you watch the movie. We all have dreams.
Big Dick Richie (that Joe Manganiello with the perfect body) throws Mike’s phone out of the window as they hurtle down the road so there will be no distractions. Blah blah blah, things happen that don’t involve stripping. They stop at Mad Mary’s, where a drag show is going on and then there is a vogue off and the guys get in on the fun because goddamnit, if they are going to have a last hurrah, they are going to have a last hurrah.
After those festivities, they head to the beach and have a party and blah blah blah. Magic Mike gets up to pee in the wild (RUDE) and this young woman, Zoe, takes pictures of him and why wouldn’t she? It’s terribly invasive but also understandable. They end up discussing their drag names because she too was at Mad Mary’s. Hers is Dolly Titz and his is Clitoria Labia or something along those lines. I approve, regardless. There is some banter and they part ways. The next morning, the guys are off again, and they spice things up with some Molly. I’m old so I only know Molly is a drug of some kind, often referenced in songs.
Throughout there is a random subplot about Ken (Matt Bomer, the pretty one), being on a spiritual journey. He’s all about meditating and he’s a level three reiki healer. The little backstories they tried to give each of the male entertainers are adorable. All you need to know is that Ken (heh) looks great. Don’t worry about this too much. By the end of the movie, they abandon this nonsense.
The guys start feeling the Molly and then, bless his heart, Magic Mike has an idea. He’s like, guys, let’s make up some new routines and stuff. He is so earnest that I wanted to hug every part of him, with my mouth. Big Dick Richie is all nervous about this because he has his fireman routine.
Hey, let’s take a moment to appreciate that.
Magic Mike gives Big Dick Richie (Sidebar/backstory: he has such a big dick he can’t find a woman who can accommodate him. I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!) a little inspirational speech and when they stop at a convenience store, Big Dick Richie decides he’s going to make a disinterested lady clerk smile. “I Want it That Way,” by the Backstreet Boys starts playing but BDR allows himself to feel the music and soon he is doing the damn thing. There is a great ejaculatory moment involving a water bottle. Note that he is wearing gray sweatpants, clever costuming detail.
When he’s done, BDR asks the clerk how much for the Cheetos he ripped open and the water and she smiles and he feels so good about himself. (See: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.)
The gang gets back on the road. Somewhere along the way we learn that Magic Mike proposed to Brooke (I think that’s her name), and she turned him down. Honestly, this was the most implausible part of the movie. Like, GIRL, WHAT? Get your life right.
The men have a prayer moment which goes awry when the truck crashes into a tree! OH NO! Tobias ends up with a concussion and the food truck is going to need a few days to be repaired. They have no emcee and no transportation. What to do?
Now the movie goes from very good to absolutely amazing. Magic Mike knows someone in Savannah who might be able to help. Of course he does. He’s Magic Mike!
They head to a mansion with a neon sign, DOMINA over the entrance, as well as two imposing security guards. Inside, we see pretty people and Magic Mike is taken upstairs where he comes face to face with Rome (Jada Pinkett/Black Don’t Crack), who is, we learn, a former lover. He also used to work with her before he ran off to Tampa to dance with greasy Dallas. There’s clearly some history between them but whatever. I mostly paid attention when they tongued each other down. I really had no interest in the like, “plot,” though to give credit where credit is due, this movie tried really hard to fill the moments between dancing scenes with a story.
Magic Mike asks Rome to emcee for them at the convention and she gets huffy because she has moved on and then says she’s going to show him what she does.
Turns out at DOMINA, women pay a monthly fee and get to watch men strip in various rooms. It’s mostly black women (YESSSSSSS) and women of all sizes (YASSSSSS) and incredibly hot black men (YESSSSSSSS) taking their clothes off. As Rome emcees various male entertainer vignettes, she refers to women as queens and focuses on women’s actual wants and desires. Quite frankly, every man in America should go watch this movie, and TAKE NOTES. Srsly. Do this, men, if you’re having romantic issues. Or if you need a refresher on treating a lady right.
Sidebar: I took notes for my own romantic situation. 1. Locate abdominal muscles or draw some on torso. 2. Invest in baby oil. 3. Practice hip thrusting and body rolling. 4. Practice dancing in time to sexy R & B. 5. Practice carrying a lady around a room while engaging in number 3. 6. Learn how to “massage” with hands and other parts. 7. Work on endurance. 8. Costumes? Doctor perhaps? 9. Simulating various sexual acts always goes over well. 10. Don’t sweat, perspire.
Sidebar: You may wonder if there is any male frontal nudity in this movie. There is not and I didn’t mind at all. I’m a fan of The D but I don’t really need to see all that business flopping around on the movie screen to be turned on. Let’s be real. How often are we actually looking at The D when we interact with it?
The next twenty minutes or so of the movie involve amazing dance sequences set to amazing music. One guy drizzles himself in baby oil. Donald Glover is in this movie (!) and sings a sexy romantic song to a lady who wants to feel beautiful. So much fine man flesh. So, so much. Finally, Rome throws down a gauntlet, inviting Magic Mike aka WHITE CHOCOLATE to dance and dance he DOES.
It was straight up sexy as HELL. I wish I could adequately describe this scene but just imagine Magic Mike’s beautiful body rolling and popping and locking and flexing and humping and there was also a lot of simulating oral sex. In this scene and others, he also twirled women around, held them upside down as he gyrated, got a little threesome grind action going, did a handstand and thrust his pelvis, and basically, he defied gravity while being absolutely sexy.
It was all very spectacular.
My vagina fluttered away from my body, toward the screen and into Magic Mike’s hands. This whole sequence was so great, women in the audience around me LOST! THEIR! SHIT! ENTIRELY! They were standing and hooting and hollering and clapping and THROWING ACTUAL DOLLAR BILLS AT THE SCREEN AS IF THE DANCERS MIGHT CATCH THEM. Yup. This happened. I was like, wow. WOW! What a time to be alive.
Sidebar: I started wondering why these women were so frenzied. I marveled similarly at the response to the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I continue to believe far too many women are desperately undersexed and/or inadequately sexed. One of the most enjoyable parts of this movie was that women were allowed to be sexual in really ribald ways, without being degraded. They were neither virgins nor whores, they were just people who enjoy being turned all the way on. It’s really not rocket science. It was also refreshing to see lust celebrated instead of shamed.
Rome sends the boys on to Charleston with a ride in her Escalade and they meet up with a friend of Tito’s from the beach party at another mansion. This one is filled with women of a certain age getting saucy on expensive wine. Zoe from the beach is also there. Don’t question it, just nod. One of these women is Andie MacDowell who is looking fantastic as well. There is way too much dialogue in this scene but the gist of it is that these women are deeply sexually unsatisfied, mostly because the men in their lives cannot be bothered to figure out how to please their women. Do better, men.
Andie MacDowell admits she’s only ever been with one man so you know she’s about to have that particular issue resolved. There is no subtlety in this movie, none at all and Magic Mike XXL is better for that. She asks Big Dick Richie to show off “the goods” and mmmm, he does. What a physique. Sir, I salute you. Andie says, DAYYYYUM perfectly and we’re all thinking it. It’s a moment.
Ken makes one of the women feel better by singing “Heaven” and grinding on her and all the women are affirmed as beautiful creatures who deserve to be seen and treated as such. It’s all perfect.
The next morning, heh, Big Dick Richie has finally found a woman who can take all of his massive manhood (get it,Andie).
Sidebar: I STILL VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!!!
She sends them off to Myrtle Beach (finally), in a Bentley (LOLOLYUP) and even has their hotel rooms upgraded. Rome and Donald Glover (Andre in the movie) and Twitch from SYTYCD (his character is named Malik and he is FINE AS HELL) are there with Rome. The guys go to sign in at the “convention” and guess who is working the desk? Effie Trinket!
Or, you know, Elizabeth Banks. She’s Paris in this movie and she knows Rome and White Chocolate/Magic Mike. In fact, she knows Rome really well and there is a HOTT little moment between them, so hot that it gets the fellas a 10:20 time slot. As they go off to rehearse, Paris tells them, “That’s a money slot so make money in that slot.” Heh. So great. There’s a hilarious montage of the guys preparing new routines featuring a surprising amount of arts and crafts. It’s very reminiscent of every Step Up movie when there’s a routine being planned. (I am kind of a dance movie expert.)
Finally, we get to the part we’ve all been waiting for. Everyone gets their moment. Rome emcees beautifully, seductively. Jada Pinkett is flawless in this movie. She is utterly flawless and sexy and charismatic and I hope she gets the bigger roles she deserves.
Each male entertainer does something that also speaks to his passion beyond dancing. Tarzan vaguely strips while making art. Tito strips and pours chocolate and whipped cream on three women and that has nothing to do with his yogurt dreams but you know, it’s cool.
Sidebar: I wish a motherfucker would pour chocolate and whipped cream on me in a public space when I’m dressed nice.
Ken sings “Untitled (How Does it Feel?” as he does his strip dance. Did you know Matt Bomer can sing? And that he handles this song really well? Now you know!
Andre sings, “Marry Me,” while Big Dick Richie, in a tuxedo puts a huge (FAKE) diamond ring on a woman’s finger and then he tosses her in a sling. Yes. A SLING. I won’t get into how I know all about slings but I was THRILLED. Fantastic all around. Nine Inch Nails, “Closer,” starts blasting and my goodness, I kept fanning myself. I was very, very warm.
The big finale involved Malik and Magic Mike dancing on two women plucked from the audience. Before they enter the stage, though, Rome warns the audience at the convention that women not on birth control should proceed to the nearest exit because some grown woman shit is about to go down. She ain’t never lied. Grown woman shit is exactly what goes down. I feel like I got a little bit pregnant (quadruplets, probably) from what happened next.
One of the plucked women is Zoe, of course, because she needed a little pick me up (boring plot reason, why not worth explaining). They get down to “Anytime” by 112 which is one of the sexiest songs in the history of sexy songs. The whole dance is perfect. And hot. Twitch is looking so damn fine. Channing is everything.
Each time Magic Mike ground his hips or thrust his pelvis or inhaled or exhaled, I clenched. At one point, he flips Zoe onto her stomach, and presses his hand against the back of her head and just looks so GRRRRR TAKE CHARGE BUT IN A CONSENSUAL WAY. I wanted to just jump up and down. I know we all enjoy different things but Channing Tatum can absolutely do anything he wants to me and he can start with all the moves he displays in this movie. We’ll work it out from there.
By the middle of this foursome, my vagina exploded and resurrected itself three seconds later and exploded again. I’m afraid to check on her at this point. Suffice it to say, shit got real. There were a lot of sexual acrobatics and gymnastics. I reached a place beyond happiness and I am still there.
At the end of their number, Malik and Mike do a sexy high five while holding the lucky ladies.
Frankly, I don’t remember much of what happens after that. I do know I desperately needed a cigarette.
In summary: Magic Mike loves to dance. Magic Mike loves to make furniture. Magic Mike believes God is a woman. Magic Mike dates black women. Magic Mike is good at sex and by good I mean he is absolutely amazing. You can just tell by his swagger.
Roxane Gay is the editor of The Butter.