movies

Ren Reviews: Magic Mike XXL

There’s a movie-going experience, and then there’s a MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCE. My trip to the local movieplex to see Magic Mike XXL was most certainly the latter. I went on opening night, to a 21+ screening. Need I say more? A theater full of mostly women, and a few brave men, made for one of the most fun and ridiculous MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCES of my life, hence the ‘all caps.’ I’m usually annoyed by lots of chatter during a movie, but Magic Mike XXL is the perfect movie to scream in anticipation, giggle at grown men gyrating, and throw your hands in the air in a slow-mo “lasso” motion when those iconic first beats of Ginuwine’s “Pony” starts playing. It is also a perfect movie for dropped jaws when you just don’t know how else to react. And all us strangers shared in the magic that was Mike and his crew of male entertainers—a special moment indeed. Ultimately, Magic Mike XXL was the movie we were all hoping Magic Mike was going to be. Now we can move on from that (Goodbye, Alex Pettyfer!), and just go on to enjoy Magic Mike XXL in all its glory.

Here’s my “recap” of the film—the most GIFable movie of all time.

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The Boys Club

When the Oscar nominations were released last week, there was much discussion and attention to the glaring lack of diversity among the nominees, specifically in the acting categories. While a more diverse body of actors and creators is certainly needed, and ultimately reflects the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry overall, there was little attention given to the fact that none of the Best Picture nominees are about women or the lives of women. I have yet to see American Sniper, Selma, or The Imitation Game, but as far as I can tell from the marketing these three films revolve around men. Sienna Miller stars alongside Bradley Cooper in Sniper, but again, it’s a focus on him, the sniper (it’s in the friggin’ title…same with Birdman…and Boyhood). Keira Knightley was nominated for The Imitation Game, but in the Best Supporting Actress category. The only minor exception to this is Felicity Jones’ Best Actress nomination for The Theory of Everything. As great as she is here, and plays a complex woman with her own struggles (but strength too), the film is ultimately a story about Stephen Hawking. The film does, however, give more equal weight to both characters and how their relationship builds and adapts to the situation at hand. According to the Bechdel Test, four of the eight movies pass, but narrowly, so clearly we have a situation going on here.

So, what does this mean for the current state of film? I’m not sure, because there were films last year that managed to showcase females. Obvious Child comes to mind. “Controversial” subject matter aside, it was a much more modest film in budget and release, but an honest and hilarious story about a young woman, and a great female friendship to boot. On the other end of the spectrum, you have one of the biggest box office hits in The Hunger Games. Both of these films were critically well received, so what gives, Academy? Perhaps this is due to the fact that the Academy is mostly made up of men. Or maybe it digs deeper at the limited amount of women who are able to get their projects made. Either way, there’s still plenty of progress to be made for women to have more of a presence in the shape of multi-dimensional and authentic women.