As a straight male, I’m probably not supposed to like Magic Mike XXL as much as I did. Or maybe it’s just uncouth for me to talk about it aloud… to everyone I bump in to. When friends ask me which movie they are supposed to see this holiday weekend, the testosterone in me is supposed to point them toward Terminator: Genisys. But my heart remembers the hilarious scene of Joe Manganiello strip-teasing a Pepsi machine to try and make a convenience store clerk smile, and I know that Magic Mike XXL is the right recommendation.

I liked Steven Soderbergh’s surprise 2012 hit Magic Mike. Yes, it played to its obvious female audience with its titillating male-dance sequences. But in the process, Mike changed the way audiences (and critics) viewed Channing Tatum, who toiled in generic genre fare like The Eagle, Dear John and the underrated The Vow up until that point. Magic Mike showed off different tools in Tatum’s box (gross, ladies, clean it up). The sequel shifts gears and shows off even newer sides of both its leading man, his supporting crew, and the franchise, as a whole. Here are three reasons why Magic Mike XXL is different from its predecessor… and actually better.

Magic Mike 1
It’s less serious, and much funnier
Soderbergh’s capable of light romps (see: the Ocean series), but he rested a heavy hand on the melodramatic material in Magic Mike. The dance sequences were comically cathartic, but off stage, these men were dealing with serious issues. That’s not to say Magic Mike XXL lacks tension. It doesn’t. But the stakes of this road trip movie are far less severe, and so problems are meant to give these guys slightly more depth without ever slowing the movie down. Also, because the clique has been established I the first movie, the personalities of these actors are able to shine through, and their friendship leads to some extremely funny situations… and the subsequent reflections of the unusual lives that theses dudes lead.

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