"Magic Mike XXL"

Joe Manganiello (left) and Channing Tatum return to the stage in “Magic Mike XXL,” now playing in area theaters.

Lord, that man can dance.

There is just something about Channing Tatum. It could be his boyish charm or those washboard abs, but I think it’s the fact that he might have the smoothest moves I’ve ever seen on a white man.

If you think you’ve seen Tatum dance in films before, you haven’t seen anything if you haven’t seen “Magic Mike XXL” yet.

“XXL” is the follow-up to 2012’s smash hit about a group of male exotic dancers. Yeah, it’s a movie about strippers. The first film pushed boundaries, but XXL sees those boundaries and crosses them.

Mike (Tatum) has retired from dancing. He’s got his dream company and builds custom furniture. When last we left him, he’d gotten the girl and was moving on from his Magic days.

Well, the company isn’t exactly crazy successful and the girl was fickle. When his former co-workers pass through town, he joins in for one last, umm, ride. But only after we’re treated to one of the only welding scenes that ends in dancing on film.

But it’s just not any road trip. It’s a road trip to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach. I’ve looked, and apparently stripper conventions really do exist. Who knew?

A couple of faces didn’t return for this film — Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer — which freed up screen/dance time for Joe Manganiello’s character, Big Dick Ritchie. Within his first scene, I’m pretty certain he had more dialogue than in the entirety of the first film.

But that’s not all. Manganiello also has his own solo performance, and it is ah-mazing. When challenged to make a mopey convenience store clerk smile, BDR — who has never been one of the strongest dancers — pulls out all the stops, and it is a little showstopping. And hilarious. I’ll never look at Aquafina or Cheetos the same way again. And I’m perfectly OK with that. *insert happy emoji here*

That kind of scene is randomly placed but speaks volumes to the kind of movie “XXL” is. It’s not a movie about strippers, per se. It’s a movie about a bunch of guys, who happen to take their clothes off for money, on a road trip. Remember, this is a movie despite this reviewer’s giddiness at seeing dancers of the exotic variety in a local movie theater.

Just like with any road trip film, they run into problems and meet old friends along the way. Along for the ride are returning favorites Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias). The guys bond, argue and find random occasions to remind the world they are, in fact, strippers.

An opportune moment arises when the guys arrive at the home of Nancy Davidson (Andie MacDowell), a recently divorced cougar on the prowl for young meat. While I love seeing MacDowell still landing box office roles, there’s a part of me that was squeamish at seeing the actress I consider kind of wholesome discussing if she’s the glass slipper to BDR’s, umm, let’s just say foot.

Delightfully, she’s not the only actress above 25 to find a home in “XXL.” Jada Pinkett Smith — who has seen a resurgence in popularity due to her role on “Gotham” — is a bit of a scene stealer, as well. She plays an old flame of Mike’s, Rome, who runs a kind-of-tasteful exotic club in Savannah. After the guys’ emcee, Tobias, is sidelined, Mike asks his former lover for a favor. Luckily for the ladies, she makes him earn it by showing he’s got the dance moves to make her effort worth it.

Moments like BDR’s convenience store dance and Mike’s sexy lap dance at Rome’s club are randomly placed scenes to keep the (chiefly female) audience happy. After all, women aren’t necessarily flocking to theaters to see Tatum and Co. recite soliloquies. At a running time of two hours and 10 minutes, though, there’s a surprisingly small amount of actual performances.

Man, it’s getting a little hot in here as I’m recalling this film. (Ahem) As I said, “XXL” is a road trip movie.

Near the movie’s end — at the stripper’s convention, never fear — Rome tells the guys, “It’s not bro time, it’s show time. Are you guys ready?” “XXL” is a buddy film ... with strippers. The first film seemed to be focused on folks coming to terms with the idea of stripping. Mike’s would-be girlfriend and her brother were new to the entire idea, and the film introduced them and us to the world of exotic dancing. “XXL” seems to be more about experiencing life outside that very world we’d been welcomed into.

Bottom line, “XXL” is not a film that will keep you hot and bothered continuously, but there are moments. The dances this time around seem to have more clothing but the moves are more risqué, if that makes sense. The dances are hotter, the laughs funnier and thankfully, there’s no lame love story.

Just dance.

Amanda Greever is the editorial production manager of The Daily Times. Contact her at amanda.greever@thedailytimes.com, follow her on Twitter @agreever_editor and Like Weekend on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dailytimesweekend.

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