Movie Review: ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’

Legendary dancer “Magic” Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) is back to shimmy and shake and make a few dreams come true. Last time he took his moves on the road, and this time he is hitting the international stage in London. “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” is now playing in theaters everywhere, and this is one retirement party you don’t want to miss.

Like everyone else, Mike wasn’t immune to the effects of COVID and was forced to shutter his beloved furniture store. He started taking on odd jobs, including bartending, to make ends meet. One night while working a charity event, he meets wealthy socialite Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault), who is searching for something to reignite the spark lost after the failure of her marriage. After experiencing the magic for herself, she lures Mike to London for a major payday and one last hurrah. Max has her own agenda, and it will push Mike harder than ever before as he reimagines stripping and has to break in a roster of new dancers. All while battling attempts to shut the show down in the name of good taste.

When word first started to spread that Steven Soderbergh was going to make a movie about male strippers starring Channing Tatutm, everyone was a bit confused. The only thing that made sense was choosing a leading man who could dance with the best of them and had a brief history as an exotic dancer. No one expected the movie to be such a significant hit or offer anything beyond pecs and pelvic thrusts. It was a surprisingly dark look at a group of male strippers and the dangers of living life like one endless party. The second film in the series is a much more light-hearted road movie about the fun and brotherhood involved in being a dance troupe. The third movie changes the dynamic again and looks at what it takes to chase a dream and what it means to have it all.

The most obvious thing to say about “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” is that the dancing is excellent. While it is obvious, it must be mentioned out of respect for the dancers and choreographers who worked so hard. Perhaps the weakest dance sequence is the titular last dance for Mike. Tatum is a terrific dancer, but his skills lean more toward hip-hop and stripping, where his athleticism can shine. His work with a single partner in a dance trying to convey more emotion is inconsistent. Sometimes they flow together beautifully, and he supports and displays his partner like he is supposed to; other times, he seems like another wooden apparatus for her to use in a solo performance. Even with that criticism, I could happily watch all the dancing again without concern.

So the dancing supports are in place. The only question remains if returning director Steven Soderbergh and returning writer Reid Carolin could construct a worthwhile narrative around the show stopping exhibitions. The answer is, yeah, kinda. There are a lot of good elements in the story about finding yourself and your passion. Perhaps the best theme is looking at how you love yourself and how you should expect others to love you. No matter how unexpected or unorthodox it may seem, love that lifts you and helps you grow into the best version of yourself is what we should search to find. It is a charming and vital message, and it would be terrific if they nailed the landing, but like the show in the movie, the film itself falls a little short. The story loses track of itself and repeats a dance sequence here or drives a joke involving Max’s gruff butler Victor (Ayub Khan Din) and teen daughter Zadie (Jemelia George) into the ground there. That time would have been much better spent developing the characters and their relationships. The film’s main love stories don’t feel unearned, but they do feel rushed.

Magic Mike doesn’t earn a perfect ten or five stars for the last time he takes center stage. Fans looking for a lot of amped-up sexuality may find themselves wanting more if hip thrusts and shirts being torn off don’t do it for them. The closest they come to actual nudity is a woman who dances in a thong during the show. Still, for its heartwarming story, the chemistry between its actors, and the endlessly entertaining dance numbers, it earns a 3.5 out of 5.

Rating: R
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Producer: Nick Wechsler, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin, Peter Kiernan
Writer: Reid Carolin
Release Date: February 10th, 2023
Runtime: 1h 52m
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

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