By Jeff Labrecque
Updated July 03, 2015 at 08:23 PM EDT
Credit: Claudette Barius
  • Movie

When Channing Tatum starred in the original Magic Mike three years ago, the critical praise was slightly shocking, with some critics comparing Steven Soderbergh’s stripper movie to Saturday Night Fever and Boogie Nights. “Tatum proves himself a true movie star,” wrote EW’s Owen Gleiberman, in a rave review. “His Mike glides through the world with the ease of a god, and on stage he’s electrifying.”

The film grossed $113.7 million, pulled Tatum up to the Hollywood A-list, pointed scene-stealer Matthew McConaughey towards his Oscar win, and even fueled talk of a stage musical. So of course there was a sequel, and of course it’s called Magic Mike XXL — which isn’t to be confused with the roman numerals of, say, Rocky II.

McConaughey (as well as Alex Pettyfer and Cody Horn) don’t return for the “supersized” sequel, but Tatum does, along with fellow studs played by Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, and Adam Rodriguez. But a few years have passed and Mike finally is making a living with his hands, like he talked about. “He’s a private citizen once again, having left show business behind to make his dream of owning a custom-built furniture company come true,” writes EW’s Leah Greenblatt, in her B- review. “But that, of course, is not the wood we came for. And when Mike’s siren song pops up on the radio during a late-night welding session in the workshop, it’s clear how much he misses the days of butt claps and baby oil. So when the old Kings of Tampa crew calls up and offers one more grab at the brass ring — a.k.a. a male-stripper convention in Myrtle Beach—he takes it.”

What follows is road-trip movie, with Mike ultimately reconnecting with a steely old flame, Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Rome, who might be able to help his boys when they drive through Georgia. Amber Heard plays a bisexual photographer who catches Mike’s eye, and Donald Glover steals the stage with his own brand of stripper seduction. Soderbergh, who’s officially retired from directing movies — if not TV — pitches in as cinematographer and editor, yielding the director’s chair to his longtime assistant Gregory Jacobs.

For the rest of Greenblatt’s review, and a sampling of other critics from across the country, scroll below:

Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly)

“What follows is an oddly stilted road-trip ramble, with a storyline far shaggier than its scrupulously manscaped stars. Director Gregory Jacobs worked under original Magic Mike helmer Steven Soderberg for years, but sadly he has almost none of his former boss’s ability to elevate material that is essentially one lamé thong away from a TLC reality series.”

Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter)

Tatum’s Mike has been trying to make a go of it with his own small woodworking and construction company. But as beautifully as Gene Kelly did in An American in Paris and George Chakiris did at the beginning of West Side Story, Tatum, while laboring in his workshop, slides effortlessly, with the prompting of music, from natural movement into dance, revealing that the man hasn’t put his youthful glory behind him yet.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) ▼

Sitting through Magic Mike XXL is like being a sober straight guy at a drunken bachelorette party where you not only have to sit through an endless medley of Cirque-du-Soleil-meets-Chippendales dance routines — you have to listen to the dancers TALK ABOUT LIFE between routines. Kill me now.”

David Edelstein (New York)

“I had doubts that Tatum — a lug in the Wachowskis’ misbegotten Jupiter Ascending — could carry the movie without the syrup-and-steel stylings of McConaughey. But he’s a charming fellow when he plays against his luggishness, batting his eyelashes like a demure little ingenue as his shirts slide off his formidable back. He’s self-effacing with the other actors — he lets them each have their moments.”

Wesley Morris (Grantland) ▲

“I realized I wasn’t only entertained. I was moved and exhilarated. Not since the days of peak Travolta and Dirty Dancing has a film so perfectly nailed something essential about movie lust: Male vulnerability is hot, particularly when the man is dancing with and therefore for a woman. It aligns the entire audience with the complex prerogatives of female desire.”

A.O. Scott (New York Times)

“You can argue with the film’s depiction of female desire, but it’s hard to quarrel with its exuberance and ingenuity. The dance numbers hum with campy energy, and the quieter moments have a sly, relaxed humor. Mr. Tatum’s limitless charm is supplemented by an appealing cast, including Donald Glover, who croons and raps in addition to bumping and grinding.”

Rebecca Keegan (Los Angeles Times)

“I suppose there’s something equalizing about objectifying male bodies as much as we objectify female ones, and something sweet about filmmakers thinking this hard about what turns women on. … But it’s hard when the movie’s female characters make even these cartoon men look like portraits of complexity.”

Ann Hornaday (Washington Post)

“Writer Reid Carolin and director Gregory Jacobs — Soderbergh’s longtime first assistant director, who takes over the helm here — do their best to infuse the follow-up with the same bracing joie de vivre and old-fashioned bump-and-grind salaciousness. Magic Mike XXL tries mightily — if unsuccessfully — to match its predecessor’s stature as a camp classic, the epitome of trashy summer fun for the whole pansexual, polymorphously perverse, omni-libidinous family.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)

“Jacobs gets the cast from point A to point B — barely — and individual sequences, like the one in Rome’s villa, work up a powerful party vibe, but there’s no larger sensibility at work. Soderbergh’s Magic Mike both mocked and celebrated its working-class satyrs. The sequel just tags along after them.”

Peter DeBruge (Variety)

“Soderbergh takes a supporting role, serving as director of photography (under his pseudonym, Peter Andrews) and editor (Mary Ann Bernard) — which begs the question why the film’s rhythm and framing feel so off, featuring countless widescreen shots that give no clue where to look and long stretches where the barely there plot seems to lose its way.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle) ▼

“The road aspect, as well as the idea of strip veterans giving it one last try, makes for a loose structure that might have been appealing. The only problem is that the situation is inherently undramatic. In the first Magic Mike, our hero had tangible, real-world problems that needed solving. Here, he and his buddies are just trying to prove themselves to themselves as artists, and that’s actually funny, even though no one in the movie seems to realize it.”

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 60

Rotten Tomatoes: 62 percent

Rated: R

Length: 115 minutes

Starring Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Amber Heard

Directed by Gregory Jacobs

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Magic Mike XXL

2015 movie
  • Movie
  • R
  • 115 minutes
  • Gregory Jacobs