(You don’t have to watch this video, you should just hit play and let this be the soundtrack for the post)
I saw the first Magic Mike accidentally-on purpose and barely lived to tell the tale. I’d never meant to see the movie. Not my thing, and aside from a mild curiosity about Mr. McConaughey’s involvement, I could have lived a happy life never having seen it. But then one (Canadian) Thanksgiving we were driving home from Boston having just watched the Patriots slaughter the Broncos and stayed the night in a hotel (motel? Holiday Inn?) with very limited options. We ordered a not very good pizza and settled in to watch a not very good movie.
I’m just not titillated by male strippers. I’m not often titillated by the male body, period. I enjoy my husband’s body a great deal and could drink him in all day long, but that’s different. It’s not fetishistic. I have never seen a man who looks good in a thong. Never. And last night in Magic Mike XXL I saw at least a dozen buff men dancing around in them, and nothing. Well, not true. Nothing would be an upgrade. I was turned off. It’s a turn-off. And when the thing that’s meant to be sexy ends up soliciting a laugh instead, you’ve pretty much killed the moment.
And there was A LOT of moment-killing in this movie. Because the truth is, I’m not really excited by male dancers either. I mean, I’m pretty sure that 98% of male dancers are gay, and about 99.9% of male strippers are gay, and somehow this movie assembles America’s only hetero male entertainers into one beefy troupe, sharing chest-waxingly, body oilingly super straight good times. Me? I prefer a man who can’t dance. Can’t, but will. A man who can dance will always arouse my suspicions.
And while we’re at it, I’m not really into the whole hard body phenomenon either. I get that I’m supposed to find it attractive, but I just don’t. That body makes me think this guy is going to take me to dinner, order a salad with dressing on the side, and then pick at it while he sniffs at my bleeding steak. And that he’ll spend three hours a day at the gym, leaving me to watch The Mindy Project alone. And that his eyes will seek out his own reflection instead of mine. And what use is a man who isn’t checking me out?
So yeah, Magic Mike isn’t exactly aimed at people like me. I think it’s marketed to housewives but appreciated by a certain 10% of men who shall remain nameless. But they’re definitely doing their best to draw a female audience; certainly the female fans in the movie are more robust than ever, covering a multitude of body shapes and colours and ages (and a sinfully wonderful though underused Andie McDowell), speaking directly to the audience it hopes to tap. And this sequel is a little less self-conscious than the first. It doesn’t get in on the joke exactly, but it takes itself a little less seriously, or at least that’s how I’ve interpreted the lack of script or plot.
Sorry Channing Tatum and company (the boys who didn’t have speaking parts in the first film but who must step up to fill the holes left by Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer in the second), but you aren’t exactly known for your improv prowess. But we all know the scenes between dance numbers are just filler, and this isn’t really even trying to be a movie so much as a soft-core musical montage. But every time the music started up, I blushed and averted my eyes. Oh lord, I’d think, again? Yes, again. And again. And again. There’s more self-fondling, shirt-ripping, edible props, self-tanner, and earnest eyebrow plucking than you can shake a stick at. Tatum’s convinced that you think he’s handsome in his backwards cap, and it becomes ubiquitous. There are so many gyrations with penis stand-ins that I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone for hours after leaving the theatre. I’m not a prude, I just have a low tolerance for people embarrassing themselves. I’m not sure if I’ve just seen the gayest straight movie or the straightest gay one, and it doesn’t really matter. This is just not a sausage party I care to be invited to.