Release date: 3 July 2015
Running time: 115 min
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Andie McDowell.
It was three years ago when Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike became an unlikely critical and commercial success. Focusing on a group of male strippers led by Channing Tatum’s charismatic dancer and Matthew McConaughey’s fast-talking club owner; it was the story of a lost young man (played by Alex Pettyfer) who finds comradeship from an unexpected source. In less skilled hands, it could have been a disaster but Pettyfer’s story, McConaughey’s presence, and Tatum’s impressive moves made the film a hit. This misjudged sequel not only sees Soderbergh trade the directors chair for a role as cinematographer, but also sees Pettyfer and McConaughey fly the coop, leaving Tatum to dance on his own.
It’s possible to carry on a franchise after losing such crucial elements, but when two central characters are completely dismissed with a few lines of dialogue it feels like a slap in the face to everyone who invested in them. What we’re left with is Tatum’s Mike reuniting with his old dance crew for one final hoorah at a conference for male strippers(!) in Myrtle Beach. Cue a ridiculous road trip with some fairly unconvincing heart-to-hearts.
A chance for one more elaborate performance from the Kings of Tampa, but also a chance for our hero to mend some bridges with his formers friends, as well as offering them some career advice on what to do after they hang up their banana hammocks. Sadly with two of the three leads of Magic Mike departing, it means the rest of the dance troupe are forced to step up. It’s not a task they are up to; beyond the dancefloor they struggle with their bland dialogue to create anything approaching camaraderie. It’s easy to see why they were only given minor roles initially.
With Soderbergh still attached as DoP, everything is framed and lit in a manner you’ve come to expect from him, but without his direction to match the aesthetics, it creates a jarring effect. It’s as if Soderbergh shot an American Pie film. Lacklustre direction from Gregory Jacobs leaves Tatum to do all the heavy lifting (thank goodness he’s in such good shape), and his star presence does go some way towards salvaging things, particularly when he takes to the dancefloor, where he is undeniably impressive.
If it weren’t for a decent cameo from Donald Glover as the stripper equivalent of Bruno Mars, and a genuinely funny scene in which Joe Manganiello attempts to cheer up a supermarket worker while on MDMA, there would be almost no redeeming features to this limp follow-up. It bears all the markings of an unnatural, unappetising, and ultimately unwanted sequel that not only offers nothing new, but undoes the hard work of what came before it.