Magic Mike XXL
Warner Brothers Pictures
Rated R for nudity, drug use, graphic sexuality and pervasive profanity
Tatum And Team Turn Up The Titillation In Sequel
What made the original Magic Mike so appealing was its raw-edged, realistic feel that made you forgot you were even watching a movie. This relatively-superficial sequel tosses the notion of plausible character and plot development out the window in favor of a sensual take the money-and-run sequel focused squarely on titillation.
Yes, Channing Tatum has returned in the title role, but conspicuously absent are Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn and a couple of other actors critical to the success of the original. Also gone is the picture’s legendary director, Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh (for Traffic), who retired in 2013 out of frustration with the film industry.
XXL picks up three years after the ending of the first episode, conveniently ignoring the fact that Mike had specifically left stripping for a legit line of work in order to walk off into the proverbial sunset with a grateful girlfriend. At the point of departure, we find Mike single again and flourishing as a furniture designer. He is soon duped into attending what is supposed to be the wake of Dallas (McConaughey), his former boss at the notorious nightclub known as Xquisite.
Upon arriving, however, Mike learns that Dallas is alive and well and living in Macao. The deceitful death notice was just a ruse concocted by pals to pitch him on participating in a reunion of The Kings of Tampa. That brawny brotherhood of hunky dudes with whom he’d once shared the stage is now interested in taking their bawdy burlesque show on the road.
Already signed on are Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Big Dick (Joe Manganiello), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and Ken (Matt Bomer), as well as rubbery eunuch Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias), who’s been enlisted to serve as the chauffeur of their food truck-turned-tour bus. The plan is to drive from Florida to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to perform in a competition at the annual strippers convention.
It doesn’t take much in the way of arm-twisting to bring Mike aboard, and the next thing you know the motley crew is cutting a swath across the South, making stops to strip at seedy dives along the way, a big exception being Domina, the upscale establishment run by Mike’s ex, Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), which caters to a predominantly black clientele. Among the buff bods in her sepia stable are Andre (Donald Glover), Augustus (Michael Strahan) and Malik (Stephen “tWitch” Boss).
Magic Mike XXL was directed by Gregory Jacobs, best known for the made-for-TV Liberace biopic, Behind The Candelabra, which landed 11 Emmys in 2013. Too bad he apparently couldn’t be bothered with crafting a credible story line for this disappointing, big screen production.
An unabashedly carnal indulgence solely interested in inducing gelatinous drools of saliva from the mouths of overstimulated females.
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 115 minutes
Fashion Documentary Revisits The Rise Of Hip-Hop Designers
When rap arrived back in the late ’70s, more than the music burst on the scene. The performers’ outlandish costumes also had a profound effect on American culture which proceeded to mimic everything from MC Hammer’s balloon pants to Run DMC’s fedoras and Adidas outfits.
As the genre matured, the more business-savvy artists opted to capitalize on their influence by launching their own clothing lines. They figured, why send the stock of fashionistas like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger through the roof when they could wear their own labels onstage? Subsequently, industry newcomers such as Daymond John’s FUBU and Puff Daddy’s Sean John kick-started brands which became multi-million dollar household names available in fine stores everywhere.
That surprising development is the subject of Fresh Dressed, a visually-captivating celebration of the sartorial splendor which blossomed during the Golden Age of Rap. The fascinating documentary takes a delightful stroll down Memory Lane courtesy of reams of archival footage featuring folks in garish, spray-paint-colored outfits. It also has plenty of present-day reflections on the phenomenon by plenty of hip-hop icons: Nas, Pharrell, Kid, Play and Damon Dash, to name a few.
The movie marks the impressive writing and directorial debut of Sacha Jenkins, who has deftly interwoven all of the above elements into an informative history lesson that’s worth the investment even if you’re not a fan of rap. For instance, you’ll learn how to avoid getting “vicked” (Ebonics for “victimized”) which is a distinct possibility if you’re dumb enough to walk through the ‘hood wearing a pair of the latest Air Jordans.
Believe it or not, gangstas build their wardrobe around their sneakers, since looking “fresh” (aka “stylish”) starts with the feet. As Kid reminisces, “People were killed for their shoes,” so “the one thing you never wanted to hear was someone asking you your shoe size.”
Back in the day, if you decided to walk a mile in a man’s moccasins, you meant that literally, not figuratively. Hey, that way, you’d not only have his shoes, but you’d have a decent head start on the barefoot sucka.
A nostalgic tribute to a materialistic generation weaned on conspicuous consumption where capped gold teeth and gaudy clock necklaces were trendy fashion statements.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 90 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening July 3, 2015
Faith Of Our Fathers (PG-13 for brief violence) Christian-oriented drama about two strangers (Kevin Downes and David A.R. White) who bond while driving from Mississippi to Washington, DC with plans to locate where their killed-in-action dads’ names were engraved in the Vietnam War Memorial. With Stephen Baldwin, Candace Cameron Bure and Rebecca St. James.
Terminator Genisys (PG-13 for intense violence, partial nudity and brief profanity) Reboot of the sci-fi franchise, set in 2029, finds John Connor (Jason Clarke) again leading the resistance in humanity’s ongoing war with the cyborgs. Cast includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, JK Simmons, Emilia Clarke, Dayo Okeniyi, Matt Smith, Courtney B. Vance and Jai Courtney.
Amy (R for profanity and drug use) Bittersweet biopic revisiting the rise and fall of Grammy winner Amy Winehouse who died of alcohol poising in 2011 at the age of 27. Featuring appearances by Tony Bennett, Mark Ronson and Mos Def.
Cartel Land (Unrated) Drug wars documentary chronicling the vigilante uprising led by a small-town physician trying to topple the cartel wreaking havoc on Michoacan, Mexico. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)
In Stereo (Unrated) Romantic dramedy about the on-again/off-again relationship of a couple of 30-somethings (Beau Garrett and Micah Hauptman) who take forever to wake up and realize they were meant for each other. With Maggie Geha, Aimee Mullins and Mario Cantone.
Jackie & Ryan (PG-13 for suggestive material and brief profanity) Romance drama revolving around the unlikely love which blossoms between a train-hopping hobo (Ben Barnes) and a socialite (Katherine Heigl) embroiled in a nasty, child custody battle. Support cast includes Clea DuVall, Sheryl Lee and Nathan Stevens.
Jimmy’s Hall (PG-13 for profanity and a scene of violence) Barry Ward plays the title character in this historical drama revolving around the return to Ireland in 1932 of Jimmy Gralton, a Communist organizer deported to the U.S. a decade earlier during the “Red Scare.” With Francis Magee, Aileen Henry and Simone Kirby.
Mala Mala (Unrated) Genderbending documentary celebrating the lives of nine members of Puerto Rico’s transgender and drag queen communities. (In Spanish and English with subtitles)
Stray Dog (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Ron Hall, a biker with a heart of gold who has devoted his life to helping pet pooches, friends, family and fellow Vietnam vets.
Zarafa (Unrated) Animated adventure, set in the 19th century, about a 10-year-old runaway slave (Max Renaudin Pratt) who flees sub-Saharan Africa across the desert on the back of a giraffe before sailing to Paris with the help of a Greek princess-turned-pirate (Ronit Elkabetz). Voice cast includes Simon Abkarian, Roger Dumas and Mohamed Fellag. (In French with subtitles)