Magic Mike turned out to be a surprisingly fun movie from director Steven Soderbergh, despite the skepticism and stigma surrounding its beefcake exhibition premise. The film not only helped further endear guys like Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello to a wider public, it also helped propel the epic comeback of Matthew McConaughey, who played one of his best characters since Dazed and Confused.

Magic Mike XXL won’t bring Soderbergh back to the director’s chair – or McConaughey to the spotlight – but Tatum, Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, and Gabriel Igelsias (The DJ) are all back – and they’ve added an impressive lineup of new additions like Elizabeth Banks, Michael Strahan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard, and Donald Glover, among others. Taking over the director’s chair is Gergory Jacobs, who only has a couple of feature films under his belt, but has been the assistant or second unit director for Steven Soderbergh (who’s still serving as the cinematographer/editor on the Magic Mike sequel) for over a decade. In short: he’s pretty much as close as you get to ‘Soderbergh by proxy.’

The story of the sequel (which Tatum co-penned with the writer of the first movie, Reid Carolin) sounds wonderfully simple and straightforward compared to the more dramatic angle of the first:

Picking up the story three years after Mike bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, “Magic Mike XXL” finds the remaining Kings of Tampa likewise ready to throw in the towel. But they want to do it their way: burning down the house in one last blow-out performance in Myrtle Beach, and with legendary headliner Magic Mike sharing the spotlight with them. On the road to their final show, with whistle stops in Jacksonville and Savannah to renew old acquaintances and make new friends, Mike and the guys learn some new moves and shake off the past in surprising ways.

Magic Mike XXL Official Poster Header Magic Mike XXL Trailer: Get Back to the Grind(ing)

As stated, this seems much more simplistic than trying to also fit in a (cliched) story about a young neophyte experiencing the highs and ultimate lows of the fast-life (Alex Pettyfer, who didn’t return for the sequel); or how Mike is searching for a real love connection in a world of one-night stands and shady girls (Cody Horn and Olvia Munn, both not returning).

In fact, it’s like Tatum and Carolin looked at what people liked about the first film (man show for the girls; bro workplace comedy for the guys) and cut off any extraneous parts. A leaner, funnier Magic Mike looks good to us; how about you?

Magic Mike XXL will be in theaters on July 1, 2015.

Source: Warner Bros.

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