We swooned over Magic Mike, Channing Tatum's semi-autobiographical film about his days as a male stripper. When we heard they were making a sequel, we all started hoarding crisp dollar bills. Of course, it's difficult for a sequel to recreate the magic of the first film, but sometimes, a clever sequel can add something special to the experience, and even build on what made the first film so exciting. XXL does that by celebrating all the women who love watching these hot dudes dance.
In XXL, the male dancers, Magic Mike (Channing Tatum), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and wild-man Tarzan (Kevin Nash) are all searching for new ways to express themselves beyond just being the stereotype of a sexy fireman or cop in a thong. What's most exciting is that the characters seem to take their cues from the women who adore them.
To explore what women really desire, the men visit an unusual club called Domina's that is run by a woman named Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith). The club is actually a converted Southern home where each room tells a different story and offers a different sexy experience. So much of the fun is getting to see real women, large and small, in their 40s, 50s and beyond get lap dances from hunky dudes of all ethnicities.
Jada Pinkett Smith described Domina's this way: "This is Rome's interpretation of what she believes the world should look like — an equal playing field of feminine and masculine energies and a place where men and women can explore and enjoy those energies together.
"She's not selling sex; she's celebrating beauty. It's a place where women have the opportunity to enjoy their fantasies in the way they choose, rather than the way in which people tell them they should. It brings what's in the dark into the light. Nobody's getting hurt. Nobody's getting exploited. We're able to come together as adults and bask in this energy and have a good time. That was my foundation for this character and what she does."
If only Domina's were a real place!
The strippers' exploration of who they are as performers culminates in a big dance convention held in Myrtle Beach. What's most exciting about their encore dances is how they all bring women up onto the stage and interact with them.
Each dance is unique and artistic, but our favorite had to be the Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired scenario with Joe Manganiello and his pretend bride (Sonya Golub). After a faux wedding, he straps his "wife" into a harness and goes to town, making us ask, "Christian Grey, who?"
This dance alone is worth the price of admission.
Magic Mike XXL opens July 1.
Images: Warner Bros.
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