My palms were admittedly moist, beset with a covering of anxiety dew that spoke of someone about to venture into unknown territory. As the lights dimmed I checked yet again for the nearest exit, in the very possible event I need to leave in haste. There was no turning back. I was about to watch Magic Mike XXL.
I replayed the rationale for this undertaking in my head. The countless posts of (largely) female friends exclaiming things like: “Where my girls at for this girls’ night out – XXL!”, “Ooh. GuuuurrRrrRrLLL….??!!!”, and “Me-ow…ready to see this again.” The perplexity I felt at such comments. I never made such comments about a movie before. What was the allure that I was missing? So, being a man of science, I knew I must attempt to understand this phenomenon. Here’s what I learned.
*Some spoilers may follow.*
The plot is stupid. Unsurprising, but 100%-confirmed within the first 5 minutes. The movie’s overtly about the titular character going on a road trip with his old strippin’ buddies to a stripper convention. Really it’s just about placing male strippers in different locations and making them dance. That being said, I’m OK with the plot being stupid. This movie was not created for plot development. It was created to show male strippers dancing.
Speaking of which, Channing Tatum can dance his well-sculpted ass off. He is infinitely better than anyone else with a significant role in the movie. Early on there’s a scene where he’s in his workshop sanding wood (right ladies?) and his song — Pony, duh — comes on. He gives a “let’s see if I still got it” smirk and proceeds to execute what has to be one of the greatest dance routines ever to take place in a workshop. Though clearly rendering it useless for actual metalwork, he grabs a metal rod and phallically thrusts it into a grinder, throwing sparks everywhere. He spins from table to barstool and back. He places a drill squarely in front of his crotch and thrusts it passionately into his tabletop. It is both entrancing and harrowing. I can’t help but hear my middle school shop teacher’s chiding voice in my head: “Never drill from the crotch!”
There are frustratingly-slow moments where the writers attempt to inject some semblance of gravitas into the movie. It fails in every instance. I can only hope I’m not alone in this opinion.
HOLY SH*T, MICHAEL STRAHAN DOES A LAPDANCE. I don’t know how many other people in the theater are as surprised as I am, but I did hear some Strahan-related cheers. I’m also unsure whether or not this is a step up from his decision to do Live! With Kelly and Michael, but he reveals himself as a very capable stripper.
Apparently lap dances for women are violent and messy. They’re literally flipped around like ragdolls, have crotches shoved in their face, and get doused in chocolate syrup and showered in whipped cream. Sure it’s a spectacle, but I cannot imagine it being remotely enjoyable. I make a mental note to research the concussion rate in women who’ve received lap dances.
But the real epiphany happens towards the end of the movie. I realize that Magic Mike is essentially an 80s action movie geared towards women. It has a lackluster plot that doesn’t matter. It has dialogue that’s cheesy to the point of entertainment. And it obviously has lots of oiled-up dudes with rippling muscles. Hell, if you take The Expendables and replace the fight scenes with dance scenes and the explosions of fire with explosions of glitter, then you’d have Magic Mike. I recall my excitement over action movies and see the similarities with that of my friends. I realize that men and women are not so different, after all. And I make a note to remember this argument when I try to take my girlfriend to see the new Terminator.