I didn’t expect a Channing Tatum vehicle about hot bros realizing their dreams through dance to be the thing that brought me back from a dark place, but it absolutely saved me last week. Magic Mike XXL in no way resembles the stuff I generally consume—I’m partial to, like, Korean action thrillers and sci-fi. I think pretty much everyone has stupid bullshit they’re trying to soothe themselves with these days, which is what I gather all the interest in that show about that girl in France is about. To unwind from a long day of metabolizing truly jaw-dropping levels of political incompetence and a feeling of omnipresent dread, I’ve been going through my personal hits, watching dozens of spooky movies and getting back into Keanu Reeves. I even tried Raised by Wolves in all its trashy pseudo-religious splendor, which is generally the kind of thing that might lift my spirits and still? I felt awful. So when Magic Mike came up in an end-of-the-day workplace discussion I decided to swallow my pride and give it a try. I missed it entirely when it came out. Turns out the movie, in addition to being one of the greatest pieces of cinema ever scripted, does actually conform to my preexisting genre tastes. It’s a work of science fiction, which takes place in an alternate reality where men are generally extremely hot and very fucking good. —Molly
Megan: My preferred self-soothing television habits are generally not of the variety Molly describes; I prefer the gentle ministrations of Garden Rescue, a British reality show that I found on Amazon Prime. When Molly started talking about Magic Mike that one time at the end of the workday, I was moved. by her passion to pay the nominal amount of money it cost to rent the movie and settled in for what I hoped would be two hours of earthly pleasure. Also, as is standard, I was stoned. Part of me worried that the movie’s shine would be dimmed by the fact that I was watching this alone instead of in a movie theatre with other women, all of whom were screaming and drinking pinot grigio out of Nalgene bottles, but you know what? This shit still slaps.
The men in the movie are all good men, with a dogged dedication to providing women pleasure without recourse. They have done leg day, arms day, and core. Joe Manganiello makes a pair of dingy sweatpants look like couture and his work in the gas station with the water bottle and the bag of Cheetos deserves a special Academy Award. In short, the movie is everything I wanted it to be: an escapist fantasia that allowed me to think about nothing other than the chiseled torsos of a bunch of himbos, and what it might be like if one of those himbos lowered that torso atop my very own. I cannot state the importance of this aspect enough— the fantasy, which is obvious, is the one thing that we need right now. Is there a coronavirus vaccine buried somewhere in Channing Tatum’s obliques? I don’t know, but stand the fuck back and let me try and find out.
Molly: I watched the movie with whiskey, as I am generally inclined to do, and from the first scene that combined two things I’m inclined to enjoy—men who weld and men who hop on a table at the very suggestion of “Pony’s” first chords—I realized I’d been doing my escapism all wrong. I will add to Megan’s observation about the Cheeto scene with Joe Manganiello that it was immediately preceded by a touching and relatable montage in which a group of close friends long denied the pleasure of each other’s company eat a heroic amount of drugs, make big stupid plans, and tell each other how much they need each other in order to live. (As far as pandemic escapism goes, this is, I might add, about as good as any shit gets.) Like, I know that the whole sensitive man thing is part of the broader comedy routine, but it’s played with such open-faced earnestness my doom-addled brain found it genuinely touching at times. I’m still sort of unclear what role Donald Glover was playing in the broader crew, but it was cool he was there too. I truly believe the scene in which his cover of Bruno Mars’ “Girl I Wanna Marry You” gives way to a fantastically nasty bit of choreography set to Nine Inch Nails should go down in cinema history. I haven’t felt so alive in months.
Megan: The welding scene, featuring welding and Chan-Chan’s gyrations is a powerful example of what happens when women collectively agree to The Secret something into existence. In this essay, I will JUST KIDDING, LET ME BE THE TABLE CHANNING GRINDS UP ON.
Yes, to your point, Molly, what is so nice about the movie is its earnestness— a feeling that I have only recently become familiar with—and I think it’s because right now, there’s a decided lack of earnestness out and about? The world is really bad, the president has coronavirus, I can’t find any of my good socks, and it’s easier to lean into shit like casually wishing for a lobotomy than to find the teensy shred of good that might be left in this world. However, the great thing about Magic Mike XXL is that you don’t have to fucking LOOK for the good thing, because it’s right here, waiting for you. Much like I did during the movie, I’m ignoring Donald Glover for the forseeable, but I’d like to touch upon the stripper convention that found the men dancing in ecstasy on a stage in Tampa. Joe Manganiello’s NIN choreo is incredible, but please, credit to Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance and Channing’s bit at the very end—the showstopper, if you will. I can say with great certainty that if I were one of those women on stage, or even if I were in the PRESENCE of that display, I don’t know what I would do and I can’t be held responsible for my actions.
In short, I didn’t think that Magic Mike XXL would make me feel, period. But it did. Lord. Did it!
Molly: I am actually writing this blog from a fabrication shop where my roommate works—it’s where I go when I need to get out of the house during our extended lockdown—and while there are many welders around none have been particularly interested in even trying to recreate Tatum’s seminal scene. But, inspired by the final moments of our new favorite movie and coping device, Megan and I have set our sights on finding ourselves a strip club to spend an expensive and poorly conceived evening at “when” this is “over.” I have my doubts this will end as satisfyingly as we’d like it to, but in these trying times it’s important for a person to hold on to and cherish their dreams.