Prepare to be entertained, amused, and maybe even pleasantly surprised as “Back on the Strip” takes the stage with its uproarious comedy and offbeat charm. In this independent comedy, a motley crew of past-their-prime exotic dancers reunite to save a struggling Las Vegas club, delivering a formulaic yet consistently funny experience that leaves audiences in stitches.
The film’s premise might sound like a cheeky nod to “Magic Mike,” but “Back on the Strip” takes a hilariously literal turn. Meet Merlin, not to be confused with Mike, a wannabe magician who dreams of becoming the next David Copperfield. However, his aspirations take a wild detour when he finds himself donning a Chippendales-style outfit instead of a magician’s cape.
What truly sets “Back on the Strip” apart is its ensemble cast, featuring a lineup that’s nothing short of A-list. From Tiffany Haddish‘s portrayal of Merlin’s mom to Wesley Snipes stepping into the role of “Mr. Big” (also known as Luther), the team assembled for this comedic venture delivers performances that elevate the film from C-grade to a must-watch.
The comedic goldmine lies not in Merlin’s magical aspirations but in the camaraderie and struggles of his fellow dancers, known as the Chocolate Chips. This unique twist allows the film to embrace unconventional physiques, offering a refreshing change from the usual chiseled bodies seen onscreen. The result? A hearty dose of laughs and relatable moments that resonate with audiences.
Bill Bellamy shines as Tyriq, a once-sizzling dancer turned stay-at-home dad, proving that change can lead to uproarious outcomes. Faizon Love’s portrayal of Desmond “Da Body” subverts traditional standards of attractiveness, creating comedic magic as he navigates the world of male dance revues. J.B. Smoove brings charisma to the screen as Amos, a pastor with dance moves that still command attention. And then there’s Dr. X, played by Gary Owen, whose shocking secret adds an unexpected twist to the mix.
Director Chris Sanders skillfully transforms the routines into comedic set-pieces, allowing each dancer to face uproarious obstacles while Rita (Colleen Camp) cheers them on as their unwavering cheerleader. The film finds its comedic sweet spot by tapping into the nervous laughter that often accompanies burlesque shows, offering a fresh and entertaining perspective on the genre.
While “Back on the Strip” delivers laughs and memorable moments aplenty, it’s not without its flaws. The magic subplot and the romantic angle between Merlin and his lifelong friend Robin (Raigan Harris) come across as lackluster in comparison to the rest of the film’s hilarity. Nonetheless, the movie’s directorial debut by Sanders hits the bullseye when it comes to comedy, showcasing that humor can triumph over a not-so-complicated storyline.
In the realm of laughter, “Back on the Strip” reigns supreme. This independent comedy takes audiences on a riotous journey filled with unexpected twists, quirky characters, and heartwarming camaraderie. So, grab your friends, gear up for a girls’ night out, and immerse yourself in the uproarious world of “Back on the Strip.” After all, when it comes to laughter, size does matter—size of the laughs, that is.
As the credits roll, you’ll find yourself embracing the carefree spirit of the film and chuckling over the enduring question: What indeed happens to that magician’s rabbit glimpsed in the opening scene? Amid the uproar and the laughter, one thing’s for sure—this comedy delivers the goods, leaving audiences with an abundance of smiles and an unforgettable experience.