'Magic Mike XXL': The original stripped to its essence

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Channing Tatum in "Magic Mike XXL."

News update: A woman's face will soon appear on the $10 bill, and Channing Tatum is organizing a touring Magic Mike male revue.

This raises the prospect that one day soon - and surely this fulfills the enduring dream of suffragists - women will be able to stuff currency adorned with an iconic female face into the g-string of their favorite Magic Mike exotic dancer.

(Very difficult to do with a Susan B. Anthony dollar.)

Tatum, alas, will not tour with the show.

To see him "dance," you'll have to see Magic Mike XXL. In Tatum's big number, he drags Amber Heard onstage to perform a routine apparently inspired by a man trying to show something to a nearsighted urologist.

The crowd goes wild, though there may be some curmudgeons in the audience who wonder if this represents some kind of gender-inverted Entourage - sexist objectification with the polarity reversed.

When I ask women about this possible inconsistency, they claim the power differential enjoyed by the patriarchy makes it all permissible.

As long as women earn $8 to every $10 earned by men, they can hurl their hard-won currency at burlesque dancers.

Which raises a question: Would you rather have equal pay, or Channing Tatum stripper movies?

The National Association of Women advises you not to answer that.

Wise, given the popularity of Tatum and this budding manchise. The modestly budgeted, surprise-hit original made a stunning $167 million worldwide, and Magic Mike XXL has been given a prime spot on the extended holiday weekend.

Tatum returns in the title role, a guy now trying and failing to make ends meet with a furniture business. His old stripper pals (Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer) blow into town for a reunion on their way to a big dance-off convention in Myrtle Beach, and Mike eagerly tags along.

The movie starts slow - XXL wastes time explaining what happened to Matthew McConaughey, who we know is off making weird Lincoln commercials.

Then, Mike becomes a jaunty road movie, the boys rolling along in a food truck on a journey that reveals the coastal regions of Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina to be a large colony of stripper-hungry women.

The men dance at an underground female club (run by Jada Pinkett-Smith), provide additional services for lonely divorcees (Andie MacDowell) and, with new talent (tWitch) on board, hit the big show in Myrtle Beach - in a dance-off with a million other strippers.

It's run by Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect), who likes to appear in movies about performers who work without accompaniment - in this case, the accompaniment of clothes.

The original, directed by Steven Soderbergh, was fun and also functioned as a sneaky treatise on the growing, anything-for-a-buck freelance economy.

The less ambitious sequel seems primarily designed to accommodate hordes of Cosmo-fortified fans, though it is a more diverse movie. Magic Mike XXL adds hip-hip components and new cast members (Pinkett-Smith and Tatum have a lusty lip-lock).

The movie's true showstopper, though, belongs to Manganiello's character, who, egged on by his buddies, uses Cheetos and a water bottle to get a reaction from the stoic female employee of a convenience store.

She smiles, and so de we.

It's summer, and this is a fantasy and a fairy tale. Magic Mike is so much less of a jerk than Christian Grey.

thompsg@phillynews.com

215-854-5992


Magic Mike XXL

Directed by Gregory Jacobs. With Kevin Nash, Alex Pettyfer, Gabriel Iglesias, Brandon Cyrus, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Brandon Richardson, Channing Tatum. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Running time: 1 hours, 55 minutes.

Parent's guide: R (for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use).