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Magic sequel is sexy, sassy and fun — just don’t expect a plot

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Magic sequel is sexy, sassy and fun — just don’t expect a plot

THIS stripper sequel delivers the raunch and sense of fun but sorely lacks the storytelling power that made its predecessor a breakout smash.

Magic Mike — a glimpse inside the ‘male entertainment’ world based loosely on Channing Tatum’s own experiences as a stripper  — delivered the sex appeal.

It also marked the start of Matthew McConaughey’s career turnaround following a series of duds.

But under Steven Soderbergh’s direction, the movie also hinted at the darker side of life as an entertainer. There’s none of that in evidence here.

Soderbergh is back as producer and cinematographer but hands over the directing job to long-time collaborator Gregory Jacobs, who struggles to build a strong story out of the often plot-free script.

Still, if you’re here solely for the dirty dancing, XXL builds to a fun climax. 

It’s three years since Mike walked out on the world of stripping and has since developed a career for himself as a handyman.

But he’s a little bored and wounded by a broken romance — so when the Kings of Tampa come a-calling it doesn’t take much to persuade him to pull out the old thongs. 

Still, Mike’s tired of the fireman and police officer act, and sets out to persuade his fellow entertainers to try something new and different. 

The Kings want to go out with a bang by giving one last great performance at the national male entertainment convention at Myrtle Beach. 

First there are stop-overs at Jacksonville and Savannah, where Mike finds potential romance in the form of Zoe (Amber Heard) and checks out the upmarket new club run by the sassy Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith). 

This all feels like padding until we get to the big-show finale, where the guys need to raise their game in front of thousands of women. 

It’s a clumsy sort of tale, with bulges in all the right places except the plot — and that will be enough for many fans. The story is surprisingly directionless at times and certainly doesn’t compare to the first film. 

Still, an up-for-it cast manage to bring on the sex appeal and personality. Tatum is having a ball — and looks ridiculously hot — in the lead role, and the banter between him and the rest of the guys, when it does flow, is funnier and sexier than 10 Fifty Shades movies.

Magic Mike XXL (16) 3/5 STARS