Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023) Review!!

Synopsis – Mike takes to the stage again, following a business deal that went bust, leaving him broke and taking bartender gigs in Florida. Mike heads to London with a wealthy socialite who lures him with an offer he can’t refuse.

My Take – Released in 2012, writer Reid Carolin and director Steven Soderbergh‘s crime-adjacent Magic Mike (2012) was a perfect showcase for Channing Tatum and his dance routine, unsurprising, after all it was based on his own personal experiences as a teenage stripper, and duly pulsed with a certain seedy glamour. But most importantly, it found connection with the audience due to its sharp, realistic portrait of cash-strapped workers getting by in post-recession Florida.

Three years later, writer Reid Carolin and director Gregory Jacobs switched things up by leaning into the spectacle of it all with the exuberant Magic Mike XXL (2015), which fairly worked as a hit-and-miss bro-road flick. While director Soderbergh‘s return behind the camera to cap off the trilogy writer Reid Carolin seemed like a perfect idea for one last grind, unfortunately, the magic that sparked in 2012 is nowhere to be found this time around.

Aside from the fact that it isn’t nearly as sexy or as deliriously entertaining as its predecessors, the film just abandons any thread of authenticity in order to become a gender-flipped Pretty Woman (1990) reboot that uses returning star Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault‘s unconvincing romantic plot device as an excuse for Magic Mike to put on one final show, setting the film further down the drain.

Sure, the film is packed with callbacks, cameos and all the dancing you’d want in a Magic Mike film, however, the starry main romance and new dudes leave us all a lot wanting. Hence, despite a cultural reset, this last dance just doesn’t bring the necessary heat.

The story once again follows Mike Lane (Channing Tatum), a former male stripper, who has fallen on hard times after he lost his furniture business during the COVID-19 pandemic, is now living in Miami working as a bartender for a catering company. At a fundraising event hosted by Maxandra “Max” Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault), a socialite, Mike is recognized by Kim (Caitlin Gerard), a lawyer for Max’s foundation and after the event, upon her suggestion finds himself providing a private show for Max, for $60,000. But during the dance Max and Mike give in to passion and end up sleeping together.

Infatuated by his talent, Max brings Max over to London to direct and choreograph a revamped male dance show version of Isabela Ascendant, a popular but misogynistic play at the historic theater she has gained from her soon-to-be-ex-husband in the divorce proceedings. Naturally, pesky obstacles pop up, both with Max and Mike’s budding relationship and also on the way to putting the revamped show on stage.

The rest of the film is mostly what you’d expect. Mike balks at the new setting at first, but he quickly adapts. He doesn’t get along with Max’s daughter Zadie (Jemelia George) or her butler Victor (Ayub Khan Din) at first, but of course they come to like him. There’s a montage of auditioning dancers and some antics with a stuffy city official named Edna Eaglebauer (Vicki Pepperdine).

At one point it even looks like the show will be shut down, but they pull out all the stops and put it on anyway because they just love performing so much. But while the film is admirably ambitious it is also conceptually muddled, and short-circuits a lot of the franchise’s signature pleasures, including some of the lust, and a lot of the laughs, for a headier dramatic shift in scenery.

Though director Soderbergh gives the film plenty of pace and pizzazz, it feels contrived. Gone are the grit of the original, replaced by watered-down rom-com clichés and an unconvincing love story underpinned with a bizarre narration about the anthropological function of dance courtesy. Yes, the film’s opening steamy scene, as well as the climax, features some good dance numbers that will all appeal to fans. There are a few laughs thrown around, still, in comparison, it lacks the impact its predecessors had.

We also come to discover that the franchise’s magic cannot survive on Mike alone. The fun of the first two films came from the guys and their camaraderie, as Mike was surrounded by a crew of hunks who also happened to be characters. Here, none of the new troupe of dancers gets a decent back story, and the show-stopping finale amounts to no more than a series of raunchy Step Up-style music videos.

Performance wise, Channing Tatum continues to showcase his strong sense of comic timing. He may not be one of the greatest actors, but he is certainly one of the best dancers. His performances often deserve great recognition, and he has practically not lost his dynamics and flexibility. Salma Hayek Pinault has many advantages, and one of them is extraordinary beauty, a slightly intriguing character and, above all, great abilities. She is especially able to perform miracles on the dance floor.

Jemelia George, Ayub Khan-Din and Vicki Pepperdine provide good support, while Christopher Bencomo, Gavin Spokes, Juliette Motamed, Nas Ganev and Caitlin Gerard are decent in smaller roles. On the whole, ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ is a tamer oddly anti-climactic threequel that lacks the charm of the previous films.

Directed – 

Starring – Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek, Caitlin Gerard

Rated – R

Run Time – 112 minutes

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