That’s right. I watched these movies. I am ashamed. Well, at least about one of them.
The Double Feature: If you’ve listened to the Middle of the Row Podcast at all then you’ve probably heard us talk about the Magic Mike movies, with Zac and Ben being in strong favor of the two films. Personally, I don’t get what they see in Magic Mike, but they said the second is better so here I am, giving these dancers another chance. As for Fifty Shades Darker… I guess I figured since I’m already here, might as well cannonball into the deep end.
Fifty Shades Darker (2017)
A Basic Synopsis: After discovering Christian Grey’s true self might be a bit too much for her, Ana decides to immediately get back together with Christian when he says things will be different this time. Or, “I want to renegotiate terms.” With words like that, how could she refuse?
My Brief Thoughts: Seeing as I’m having a challenging time remembering anything from the first movie, I was feeling a bit lost. Did Ana have this job, and this boss, in the first film? Did Christian have this hands off the abdomen and chest rule before? Wait… Why are we seeing Christian’s chest already? Wasn’t Ana super upset at the end of 50 Shades of Grey? I may not remember a lot, but I do remember an elevator door dramatically closing on this relationship. What could have possibly changed in what didn’t seem like that much time to make this relationship a good idea!?
As far as I can tell, not a lot. If I could sum up Christian and Ana’s relationship, I would probably describe it like this (from Ana’s POV): I see things about you that are a real concern to me, and though I acknowledge those red flags I’m going to ignore them, and instead dig deeper into this uncomfortable scenario because red flags are stupid and, just incase you can’t tell from my aooga eyes, your body be bangin’. Besides, my only other option is a sexual predator, so a possessive, domineering boyfriend who doesn’t listen to me doesn’t seem so bad! Wait, did you just treat that girl like a dog? That’s awful! On the other hand, I like dogs. And you did tell me something about your mom… so progress!
Speaking of moms…
Wait, What?!: Did anyone else think Christian was about to call Ana “mom” when she woke him up from a nightmare later in the movie? Cuz I sure did. It’s so creepy that he picks girls that look like his biological mother, especially since it’s not just a subconscious thing. He’s fully aware of this. Add that to the nightmare that opens the movie of his mom getting abused and I don’t know what we’re supposed to think. All I know is that it draws this parallel where Christian is the abuser and these girls are his victims (far past the kink level). I know this is Fifty Shades Darker, but that’s really dark (and add’s to the “maybe Ana should heed the warning signs” pile).
Randomly Awesome Quote: Psych, just kidding! The writing is often times eye-roll worthy so there are definitely no quotes worth pulling. I just wanted to take this opportunity to make fun of the scene on the boat when Ana wonders who lives in this huge, beautiful house on the shore. Christian makes up some short story about it being owned by some sea widow who waits by the window, hoping to see her husband again. 1) I think we were supposed to smile in an “oh Christian, you relatable scamp” sort of way. Nope. 2) How did this convo not end with Christian revealing he owns the house? It must be the only thing he doesn’t own at this point. And I’m assuming as soon as he got home he made some calls and now it’s his.
Quick Question: Was that not Dakota Johnson walking around the city following the confrontation with the stalker? Cuz it definitely didn’t look like her under that hood to me, so much so that I thought the movie was taking a sudden turn to the craziness (well, crazier craziness) by introducing yet another one of Christian’s past subs.
Another Quick Question: Do any of you who have seen The Chronicles of Riddick have any thoughts on what insights I should draw from there being a poster for that movie in Christian’s old room?
Most Important Question: Why was the masquerade ball not more of the movie?
Final Thoughts: After seeing the trailer for Fifty Shades Freed (such a dumb title) I really wanted to know how we got from the end of the first film to a man holding a knife to someone’s throat in the final movie. Now I know… So I guess that’s something.
Magic Mike XXL (2015)
A Basic Synopsis: Most of the guys from Magic Mike are back, road tripping to a stripper convention in a way that only strippers can. Oh, excuse me. Male entertainers.
My Brief Thoughts: As I mentioned above, I am not a fan of the original Magic Mike movie. But because the guys love it, I thought I would give it another chance. This time I liked it even less seeing as one of the main characters is a horrible person and made me visibly angry. He is a disrespectful monster and seeing him succeed is torturous.
Suffice it to say, I was ready to hate the sequel. The title alone gets a big ol’ eye roll. That said, Zac was right (don’t let him know I said that), this one is way more fun. They got rid of that garbage person, they added someone from my favorite dance show (Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance), and best of all, they added more humor. As Joe Manganiello proves, it’s hard not to smile at these guys.
My biggest complaint about this one is that the runtime feels way longer than just 2 hours. Between the uncomfortable animosity with Mike’s return to the group at the start of the road trip, the amount of settling into some of the pit stops along the way, probably even the existence of Amber Heard’s character (though I do love watching Charming Tatum do his thing), a lot of this could definitely be trimmed so that we stay comfortably in the fun elements, keeping the tone shifts from feeling like such broad strokes. We don’t need the drama, bring on the Molly!
From the guys broing out in much more enjoyable ways, ways that involve the Backstreet Boys, this reunion quickly launches into elements I wasn’t expecting as they prep for their final performances together. I know I never thought I would be comparing Magic Mike XXL to Pitch Perfect, that’s for sure, but I am beyond pleasantly surprised that I am. Can we make that crossover happen? Had the Bella’s tour bus stopped at the same gas station as these guys… Oh man.
Randomly Awesome Quote: “I’m a picky guy…. I would take a pack of Oreos over that bullshit any day of the week… cookies are awesome.” Thank you Channing. Cake IS overrated.
Quick Question: How has it taken so long to get Joe Manganiello in a superhero film? I’ll take that Deathstroke movie now please.
Nope: There’s no way those girls are that happy to get sprayed down by a can of whipped cream. They’re going to have to spend the rest of the day at the convention with that sticky residue on their clothes and in their hair. No thanks.
Final Thoughts: I am so happy this movie embraced the fun, lightening up on a lot of the drama that infuriated me with the first film. Now if we could just edit it down a bit more…
The Double Feature Verdict: No contest between these two guilty pleasure movies, especially since I drew little enjoyment from watching one of them. Magic Mike XXL wins easily.