I doubt many of you recall my review of Magic Mike from years ago, but the big takeaway was this: if you were going to see it at all, it wasn't worth going to the theater for. I took that advice myself when it came to the sequel, Magic Mike XXL, waiting until I could Netflix it. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the "if you're going to see it at all" side of the question.
Magic Mike XXL isn't appreciably worse than the original, though it certainly isn't much better either. It's decidedly average in different ways. Responding to criticisms that the first film had "too much plot," the sequel has barely any plot at all. Mike has gotten out of the "male entertainer" business, but is pulled back in one last time to go on a road trip with his old friends to a stripper convention. Wacky hijinks ensue.
At least, they should. The road trip portion of the film is steadfastly episodic, to a degree that you feel like you're binge-watching half-hours of the Magic Mike sitcom back-to-back-to-back. And that sitcom is only occasionally as funny as you want it to be. There are a couple of fun moments, like newcomer Gabriel Iglesias joking about how he can replace Matthew McConaughey, and Joe Manganiello's impromptu performance in a gas station convenience store. But there are far more dry scenes like the world's most boring beach party, and a never-ending gab session with Andie MacDowell and her "desperate housewife" friends.
The movie actually digs a rather deep, dull hole for itself, until the finale swings things back to average. The final 20 minutes sees the gang performing at the convention, and each of the returning cast gets his own solo number. Some are far better than others, but as a whole, it brings the glitz and flash better than anything from the first movie. Still, you either have to endure until you reach that finale, or just fast forward to it.