The Boys Are Back in Town

The speakers blast the opening beats to “Pony”. It can only be one thing: The summer movie that calls to women and lures them in the theaters with the promise of rock hard abs and nice tushes. It’s Magic Mike back in theaters and this time it’s XXL!

In the previous installment, too much time was spent on a lack luster plot that was forced down the audience throats. We didn’t go for a dramatic movie: we went for a good time. Magic Mike XXL learned from the original’s strengths and weaknesses. The second romp is fun with a few moments of sentiment that will put a smile on your face.

Dallas sells out the boy leaving them stranded on their own before the big stripper convention in Myrtle Beach (is this even a real thing, because well….). Mike sees an opportunity to have some fun and re-galvanize his life. The team (Richie, Ken, Tarzan, Tito, and Tobias) set out in a food truck once the prodigal son returns for their last performance. But the ride isn’t that easy. Drag queens, drugs, and girls set the boys off the beaten path as they struggle to find a new MC and some new routines to go out in a “tsunami of dollar bills.”

This movie is pure fun with laughs abound. The plot centers around the Kings of Tampa themselves and not just on Mike and his an unworthy protege. Instead its a buddy movie focusing on the male entertainers themselves. Joe Manganiello kills it as Richie who becomes a de facto leader for the team and has some of the best one liners. He also has one of the best dance sequences in the entire movie.

There are a few moments of tenderness which reminds everyone why women seek out male entertainers. We want to be reminded that we are wanted, that we are beautiful. In the most touching (and one of the few dramatic scenes in the film), Matt Bomber’s Ken breaks out the Bryan Adams to serenade a middle aged Southern Belle reminding her that she is worth love and to have her fantasies come true.magic_mike_joe_manganiello.0

The other thing the movie does well is bringing in strong women. Jada Pinkett Smith is Rome, a feisty
and feminine strip club owner who rules every scene she’s in. Amer Heard plays the scorned photographer who just needs her smile back. And Elizabeth Banks, well, she’s just spectacular. These character balance out the testosterone and proves male entertainment isn’t an all boys club.

What does it do wrong? Well, the plot is as thin as the men’s thongs but its those thongs we came to see. Will it when the actors any acting awards? No, but someone needs to give these boys kudos for their dancing moves. This movie is pure movie escapism.

Magic Mike helps level the playing field when it comes to female sexuality. Forget 50 Shades of Grey where women have to submit to be sexy. These men remind we are beautiful just the way we are and that we should embrace to our sexuality (and those one dollar bills). Hate it if you must, but Magic Mike XXL is great summer movie fun.

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As Is Often the Case, Dinosaurs Run Amok

Jurassic World is about being bigger and better. The new park has bigger attractions, bigger dinosaurs, bigger scares. But, as in the spirit of the first film, we learn that bigger doesn’t necessary mean better especially where nature is concerned. Ironically, the script doesn’t understand that lesson. The film tries to out do the original but fails in an entertaining manner.

Over twenty years later, Jurassic World has learned from previous mistakes, designing a new park sparing no expense for awed crows. Claire (played but a surprisingly one dimension Bryce Dallas Howard) helps run the park but has no time for her own family. When her nephews come for vacation, she quickly passes them off to her assistant. She is more concerned with their new dinosaur Indominuscb26e9d8-8468-430b-9503-86ed2d62d9d4

rex who was created from a variety of dinosaur and animal DNA.. The park owner wants hot shot trainer Owen to approve the pen she is kept in. But he arrives too late as Indominus rex terrorizes the park, and Claire’s nephews are lost in the struggle.

If this plot sound familiar you are right. The movie mimics (I hate to say steals) scenes from the original film trying to out do them. From trying to eat children through vehicles to having a greedy scientist try to make off with DNA, the movie fails to exude the terror for the original. Ironically, the film is at its best when it waxes nostalgia. Those first moments you hear the theme song your heart swells. When the boys find the old visitors center an steal a jeep. These feel like the homage the movie should be making.

As a movie on its own, it’s easier to enjoy. There are a few moments of pure terror. As before, it’s hightened when the raptors are let loose. Their ability to think makes them terribly scary and the movie does well using this terror. But director Colin Trevorrow really falls flat when working with the cast. He must have asked Chris Pratt to not be Starlord because Pratt’s performance is stilted which is odd because Owen is the same kind of character as Starlord. Pratt needed a longer leash to truly become the character. This could have helped Howard as the two didn’t play off each other well and chemistry was being forced on them (and the audience.)

Over all the movie is entertaining, but it makes a mistakes in trying to surpass its predecessor. It should have happy just surpassing The Lost World (which proves that even if Michael Crichton was still alive, the plot would not have been much better). Funny at times, frightening at times, Jurassic World leaves you with a “what if…” taste in your mouth.