Film Review: Magic Mike XXL

by Evan Brown

Rated MA15+. Starring Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello. Directed by Gregory Jacobs.

Should I watch Magic Mike XXL?

How did it come to this? I always did my homework, ate my vegetables, paid my parking fines and didn’t pay some off-shore company to write my university essays.  And now here I am, sitting in silence, in an arena surrounded by 5,000 screaming women yelling things that would make any man blush, who are all waiting for a movie that Channing Tatum (who himself was in attendance at the screening) described himself as “a stripper movie”.

As I sat in my seat sulking alone thinking of all the moments of my life that led up to this event I started to wonder, “Why has this not caused more outrage in the media? If the gender roles were reversed, surely it would cause a stir?”

Not a New Thing

In my sullen state it didn’t take me too long to remember that the gender roles had been reversed over 20 years ago with movies such as Striptease, Showgirls and Showgirls 2. Women have been the objectification of men in the media for a long time and it seems to be only recently that this new fad of “Mommy porn” is emerging in our culture (eg. Fifty Shades of Grey). Women’s sexuality has been suppressed in the media for a long time and only in the past few years are we starting to see its liberation.

I’m not going to cry out in objection to this shift of sexuality because as I sat through the plethora of scenes littered with topless dancing men I came to the realisation that this isn’t all that different to primetime television (although in this case it seems to be a lot more celebrated with a never-ending stream of sexual innuendos). How can we object when we have become so complacent with our own primetime viewing? This is just the other logical side of the same coin.

Changed by a New Identity

As a Christian man I have sat through many seminars, sermons, workshops and conferences that deal with the issues of lust, pornography, objectification of women, sexual immorality and the damage they cause. I strongly feel like that this issue has been addressed appropriately and faithfully (check out the helpful links below). And when I would get up with the other men in the church and go to the hall and attend these sermons (for the someteenth time) the women would stay behind and attend their own seminar on how to not cause men to stumble in their actions and attire.

This isn’t just another article on lust. This is an article on awareness. Awareness that it’s not just men that battle these issues, women do as well. Awareness in the growing gap between cultural normality and Christian normality that now exposes us to new and different temptations everyday. Awareness as Christians who need to constantly provide love and support for each other. We need to “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:9).

We must remind each other that our God is a God who loves us. He loves us so much he sent us his Son so we are free from the bondage of sin. As Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom of Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Magic Mike XXL

As a movie the plotline of Magic Mike XXL is simple: a group of male entertainers band together for one last road trip across America to perform their final act with a new routine. The character development is minimal, the script is predictable and the acting is of the quality you would expect from a movie like this to be. Let’s be honest – this is glorified soft pornography. Magic Mike XXL is a series of adult strip scenes with some dialogue thrown in as an afterthought.  Even the appearance of Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover aka Troy from Community aka “that rapper that all the white kids like” who had a minor role in the film couldn’t raise the bar.  We’ve seen what he is capable of as an actor and unfortunately this movie portrayed him as a glorified singer without a shirt.

Watch What Goes In

I remember when I was a child I attended a local youth group run by a pentecostal church. It had skate ramps, big loud music, Nintendo 64 on the big screen (the 90s equivalent of XBox One) and dynamic preaching. As an Anglican boy, youth group couldn’t get much better than that. Despite the impressive layout and attractions there has been one thing that has stuck with me for over 15 years. A quick analogy in a sermon directed at testosterone-fueled boys.

“We are like sponges, what goes into us will surely come out. So be careful of what goes in.”

As Christians in a world that is constantly bombarding us with new temptations we need to be aware.

We need to be aware of what goes into us (consciously and subconsciously).

We need to be aware that lust is a stumbling point to both men and women.

We need to be aware that in Christ we have been set free from our bondage to sin.

With that in mind, see this movie if you want – but be discerning, knowing that it may not be helpful for you, or your friends who go with you. I give this movie one star.

Magic Mike XXL is releasing in Australia this Thursday, 9th July. It is already screening in the US and UK.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

Some helpful articles on fighting against lust:

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/anthem-strategies-for-fighting-lust

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/12-questions-to-ask-before-you-watch-game-of-thrones

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