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Review: Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023)

Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023)

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Premise: The third film in the Magic Mike series. The former exotic dancer (Channing Tatum) is recruited by a wealthy divorcee (Salma Hayek) to put on a stage show in London.

What Works: The first Magic Mike film was a fairly dark show business cautionary tale with the character and some of his associates beat up by the perils of the entertainer lifestyle. Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and star Channing Tatum lightened up for the second film and made a movie that celebrated carnal pleasure. Magic Mike’s Last Dance is much more consistent with the second film than the first. It has the brighter color scheme of XXL and the sense of erotic fun. The third installment pivots toward the mainstream and it mostly succeeds. This is a let’s-put-on-a-show story with Channing Tatum’s titular character directing a male revue underwritten by a wealthy benefactor played by Salma Hayek. It is also a love story and Magic Mike’s Last Dance advances some of the themes of the second film, namely the emphasis on female pleasure. This film takes a more intimate focus and Magic Mike’s Last Dance explores dance as a form of communication and seduction. The movie’s set pieces are as erotic as anything in the previous films but the chemistry between Tatum and Hayek gives the dance numbers an extra romantic charge.

What Doesn’t: The transformation of the Magic Mike series from the honest and cynical original to this glossy third installment has come with a cost. The edge of the original movie has been filed off and at this point the Magic Mike series has become the Hollywood fantasy that the first film challenged. The plotting of Magic Mike’s Last Dance is very formulaic. It’s a familiar story of talented people putting on a show and the filmmakers add nothing that is new or innovative. Stories require an obstacle that will keep the protagonist from achieving their goal. The more concrete and formidable the obstacle the better. Magic Mike’s Last Dance has trouble coming up with a coherent opposition. The film throws up some random antagonists working on behalf of the ex-husband of Salma Hayek’s character but there is no compelling dramatic friction. At no point is it conceivable that the show will actually be shut down. Magic Mike’s Last Dance is more fundamentally about Tatum and Hayek’s characters falling in love but here as well there’s no real resistance. They come from different socioeconomic worlds but there’s nothing really keeping them apart.

Disc extras: Featurette and an extended dance scene.

Bottom Line: Magic Mike’s Last Dance is probably the last entry in this series and it’s best to leave the story and the characters here. It’s a satisfying enough conclusion and although it is formulaic to a fault the movie does succeed in putting on a spectacle and showing the audience a good time.

Episode: #965 (September 17, 2023)