Saturday, February 11

Magic Mike’s Last Dance Review

Magic Mike's Last Dance

Dir: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek, Caitlin Gerard, and Gavin Spokes

1h 52m

At the press screening of "Magic Mike" in 2012, a group of talented male performers danced their way around a crowd of eager viewers ready to see Channing Tatum striptease. In the film's first minutes, the naked backside of Mr. Tatum appeared onscreen, and the entire theater erupted in hoots and hollers so loud that any dialogue following this scene was muffled entirely out. It didn't matter from this point whether the movie review would be negative or positive, "Magic Mike" already was a hit. 

"Magic Mike," directed by Steven Soderbergh, explored the glamorized lifestyle of an adult  entertainment performer in a South Florida nightclub as a cautionary tale and a star-turning stage for Channing Tatum. "Magic Mike XXL," directed by Gregory Jacobs, took the show on a road trip with a lighthearted buddy comedy with an unsuspecting heart. "Magic Mike's Last Dance," directed again by Soderbergh, takes place a decade later, post-Covid, as a film about second chances and chasing your passion. Is another journey with a retired male stripper necessary? Not at all. But "Magic Mike's Last Dance" has enough charming Channing, Hallmark channel romance, and seductively-charged dance choreography to keep fans of the series satisfied with one final dance. 

Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) experienced the same struggles as the rest of the world during the pandemic. After pursuing a dream and finding success as a furniture designer, the worldwide health event put Mike's passion out of business. Still living in South Florida, Mike works as a bartender-for-hire at a luxury charity event run by Maxandra "Max" Mendoza (Salma Hayek), a wealthy Londoner who is going through a marriage separation. A guest at the party recognizes Mike from his past life as a male stripper; Max finds out and coyly coaxes Mike to demonstrate his skill to her in private. Mike, initially reluctant, obliges Max's request, which awakens an opportunity that jettisons them to London for a unique creative collaboration.

"Magic Mike's Last Dance" steps away from the examination of desire and performance prevalent in the previous two films and instead emphasizes the theme of sex as art, performance for pleasure, and the blurry line between lust and love. Soderbergh, director, cinematographer, and editor under various pseudonyms, focuses on developing a love story between Mike and Max and exploring the connection between performer and patron that exists when the fantasy dissolves. 

The execution of the love story seldom finds its swoon-worthy stride, even though the chemistry between Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek evokes a complicated yet sweet relationship. As Mike and Max grow from artistic collaborators to emotionally connected soulmates, the story provides a few moments of love's influence that are amusing to watch. Whether a sexy private dance scene or a makeover montage, Hayek and Tatum's performances sizzle. Unfortunately, the good moments aren't strong enough to sell the journey of love for these two older, world-weary adults. Still, the non-too-serious approach keeps the emotions light and digestible for audiences looking for a simplistic love story.

Channing Tatum is comfortable with the role of Magic Mike. The Prince Charming quality of the character's development in this film suits the actor's endearing sensibilities. Salma Hayek is in prime form throughout the film as a newly empowered woman taking control of her choices. Hayek exudes confidence throughout the film, making the character arc far more interesting when Max loses assuredness as the emotions for Mike grow irresistible.

"Magic Mike's Last Dance" is a good romantic cinema date night option for Valentine's Day. Salma Hayek and Channing Tatum hold the film together; their onscreen connection is undeniably charming. While the film may not always evoke those timeless love story vibes, it has enough sweet sentiments and entertaining dance numbers to satisfy fans of the franchise. 

Monte's Rating

3.00 out of 5.00

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