If you’d told me a few years ago that one of the greatest, most important pieces of road trip cinema would be the sequel to Magic Mike, I probably would’ve laughed. Well, fast forward a few years and let me tell you (and past me) that it’s true. Yes, dear reader, what might come off as a weird cash grab of a sequel or shameless stripper movie is kind of both of those things, but it is ALSO a film with substance. I know it might be tough to believe, but stick with me here for a second. It’s not a perfect movie by any means (I’m looking at you, lackluster gay bar scene), and yet, it’s still a fun ride for a lot of reasons. Mainly, there’s a whole pile of weirdo bro-wisdom in this movie that’s worth taking with you, and I’m here to get into the nitty gritty of it all. As Richard “Big Dick” Richie (Joe Manganiello) says early on in the film, “You better be ready to follow my ass down the rabbit hole, brother.” Shall we?
I might be getting ahead of myself here, but for those who may not be familiar with the MMCU (Magic Mike Cinematic Universe), allow me to clarify. In the wake of the events of the first MM, the titular Mike (Channing Tatum, stupidly charming) has walked away from the stripper life and established a small business and a semi-charmed life. He’s just broken up with Brooke, his love interest from the first movie, so while things aren’t horrible for Mike, they’re definitely a little lackluster. When the gang calls him up to let him know they’re holding a wake for old MC Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), he decides to reunite with them. But because this movie is what it is, there is no wake. Just a raging party, the bros, and an intriguing proposition — one last ride. The boys used an (admittedly messed up) lie to lure Mike back into the spotlight for their last performance at a stripping convention. Hesitant at first, Mike decides to join in, and the beefiest, bro-iest, best stripper road trip movie ever begins.
From here on out, the boys hit the road and a plethora of lessons are drawn out, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. Take, for instance, the beginning of the road trip, where Richie demands that Mike stop messing with his phone. “If you’re going to be here, BE HERE,” he demands. When the phone doesn’t immediately go away, Richie grabs it and chucks it out of the window. Now, phone/tech hating aside, Richie has a point. On any good road trip, and in life generally, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re taking in all life has to offer you. Whether that means unplugging for a bit, taking up meditation, or just trying to be more mindful about your everyday life, being present can take many forms, and be quite beneficial.
In addition to highlighting the broader positive outcomes of being mindful, Magic Mike XXL also reminds us that with friends (a froyo truck, molly, and lowered inhibitions) anything is possible! Anything, including putting on a whole new stripping spectacular in two days while hitting up two very different parties in the same night. That being said, having a solid support system, and a group of friends down for all kinds of adventures, is proven to be good for you in a whole bunch of ways!
Yes, the boys and Mike all have a strong bond that helps them through the events of the film, even when they argue. However, for all the ways it shines a light on what we should be doing in our lives, MMXXL also shows us what we shouldn’t do. Burning bridges seems to be a big background theme in this movie — mainly, Mike leaving and having to clean up his messes. Whether it’s returning to the beefiest brotherhood, or getting some help from Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), an old flame, it’s clear that the bridges we burn don’t always light the way. That is to say, don’t take support networks for granted! During any kind of change, true friends will stick by you all the way through.
In the end, these beefy boys have a lot to teach us about life, even if it might not seem like it at first. Behind the muscle and cheesy strip routines, there’s something genuine MMXXL is trying to get at, and while it falters at times, it still delivers in more ways than one. So, the next time you’re in a bind, or need help while soul-searching, just think: What would Magic Mike do?
Because we love MMXXL and we love you, we made our Patreons a lovingly crafted MMXXL-themed Road Trip playlist. Check it out and feel all the love and support that only sexy, warm-hearted strippers can provide.