WashPost Critic Adores Progressive Strains of 'Magic Mike,' Compares Strippers to... Priests

July 5th, 2015 12:13 PM

Like The New York Times, The Washington Post also undertook a political tour of the summer movies. Movie critic Ann Hornaday hailed Magic Mike XXL as a harbinger of more progressive male characters who are in touch with their “inner drag queens.”

Even stranger, Hornaday labored to compare the stripper corps of Magic Mike XXL to....mendicant priests? Since when do priests bump and grind?

As the ab-tastic band makes its way across the American South, it’s clear that they see themselves less as strippers than as mendicant priests, carefully listening to what women want and then obliging with pumping, thrusting, laser-like attention.

Priests are celibate and while they may carefully listen to women’s spiritual needs if they’re a good pastor, the comparison is beyond a stretch. Then Hornaday went on admiring:

Whether they’re plucking their eyebrows, admiring one another’s ample physiques or, as Tatum does at one point, discussing their inner drag queens, the boys of Magic Mike XXL are securely and unapologetically in touch with their feminine sides, which they clearly perceive as necessary for a well-rounded emotional life.

In Magic Mike XXL behavior that might once have been parodied as a homophobic burlesque is forthrightly portrayed as a force for honesty and deep relationships.

Similarly, in such indie comedies as The D Train, starring Jack Black and James Marsden, and The Overnight, with Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman, scenarios that might once have been played for cheap, gay-panic laughs are presented as opportunities for growth, discovery and genuine intimacy. This could mark a trend, as The Hollywood Reporter recently wrote, of the new “stromo” career path — that is, straight actors who embrace LGBT roles and audiences on-screen and off. Heterosexual, it seems, does not have to mean heteronormative.

She claimed both Entourage and Ted 2 “failed to meet expectations at the box office, perhaps because they felt so creakily reactionary.” Sadly for Hornaday (and perhaps the culture), Ted 2 is out-stripping (sorry) Magic Mike in per-screen average.  Hornaday concluded:  

In a case of can’t-make-this-up timing, just as Ted 2 was opening, the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision granting marriage equality for same-sex couples. That means that while Tatum takes his inner drag queen out for a strut, his co-star Matt Bomer and his husband, Simon Halls, can find newfound ease in the knowledge that their union is legally recognized in every state where Magic Mike XXL is playing. With luck, it won’t just be the electrifying dance moves making it rain this weekend, but the cheering sight of Tatum and his bros’ exploding notions of masculinity that have long been in need of a reboot.