2012’s Magic Mike was pound-for-pound one of the most successful films released that year. With only  a $7 million price tag it became one of the most profitable movies in a long time. Naturally, having grossed well over $100 million domestically alone on this investment, Warner Bros would want a sequel and that’s what we have in Magic Mike XXLwhich opens today just in time to strip away the competition.

Original director Steven Soderbergh replaced himself at the helm with longtime associate Gregory Jacobs, but the SS blueprint is all over this one as he is still behind thepete hammond review badge camera as cinematographer (using the pseudonym Peter Andrews) and as film editor (using the name Mary Ann Bernard).  He also serves as executive producer. But no matter. What worked before works again, and as I say in my video review (click on above) the MM formula exists to watch this male stripper crew do their moves and drop trou.

With an invigorated female-driven box office this summer, thanks to hits like Pitch Perfect 2, this is the perfect girls-night-out movie to fuel the box office this holiday weekend. It may be a cliche but there’s fireworks on screen here as well as in the sky. A lot of that is due to star Channing Tatum, who returns in the role of Magic Mike, a character for which he used his own experiences as an exotic male dancer to help create. He also produced the film with Nick Wechsler, Jacobs and Reid Carolin (who supplied the bare bones storyline).

Although Mike had given up the carefree stripper life by the end of the first movie, he has been lured back by his onstage buddies for one last show at a Myrtle Beach strippers convention. Thus the film really becomes an excuse for a raucous road trip through the South with a stop on the way in Savannah, GA, where he revisits an old flame named Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith) who now runs an exotic dancers-style nightclub that looks more like a brothel. After re-connecting, she joins up with the boys in Myrtle Beach as their new M.C. Early on it is pointed out that Dallas, the Matthew McConaughey ringleader of the group, has moved on. Pinkett Smith is a surprisingly refreshing choice as a replacement to call the shots as M.C. She’s sassy, smart and lends a nice female touch. Also, on the way to North Carolina, they stop at Andie MacDowell’s house in Jacksonville. She is an aging Southern belle offering up a ladies night out with wine and these guys, who find their way to her home. It’s a fun sequence that also sees Mike igniting a bit of a romantic interest with a photographer he met along the way played nicely by Amber Heard.

The last part of the film offers each performer (regulars Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez and Gabriel Iglesias are all back, but not Alex Pettyfer) a chance to shine in the spotlight. Ultimately this is just the same formula as an old MGM musical with lots of skin. And it is pure fun. Nothing more, nothing less, an XXL summer strip-and-sip mint julep of a movie.

Do you plan to see Magic Mike XXL?  Let us know what you think.