Curiosity dominated the critical conversation when Academy Award-winning renaissance man Steven Soderbergh teamed up with Channing Tatum, the lantern-jawed heartthrob who danced his way into our pop cultural consciousness in Step Up (and starred more recently in Foxcatcher and the ongoing 21 Jump Street franchise). Well, we should have remembered that Soderbergh, thanks to his breakout Sex, Lies, and Videotape, knew a thing or two about clocking libidinous rhythms, and in Tatum he had a focal point like no other.
But what about a second helping — without Soderbergh and supporting wildcard Matthew McConaughey? That left Tatum and Gregory Jacobs, the first assistant director on Magic Mike as well as a host of other Soderbergh projects, to carry the load along with the remaining (and returning) Kings of Tampa — Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Ken (Matt Bomer) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez). There is much discussion about the absent Dallas (McConaughey), but the newcomers on hand, including the Rap-singing lover-boy Andre (Donald Glover) and Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), the new sultry mistress of ceremonies with complicated romantic ties to Magic Mike, go a long way toward making us forget that we ever bought into Dallas’ club. (R) Grade: A