I love Magic Mike, like, a lot. I respect director Steven Soderbergh for his range as a filmmaker (the man also made Contagion, c’mon now) and I respect Channing Tatum’s sincerity with which he plays our lead character even more so. Unlike the films before it, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, the third and final entry in this trilogy, offers up a more mature story to match its titular’s age and development. The film is directed by Soderbergh, written by Reid Carolin, and stars, Tatum, Salma Hayek, Ayub Khan Din, Jemelia George, Juliette Motamed, and Vicki Pepperdine.
In the film, “Magic” Mike Lane takes to the stage again after a lengthy hiatus, following the failure of his furniture business. Leaving him broke and taking bartending gigs in Miami, one gig leads him to Maxandra Mendez, a rich woman in the middle of a divorce and looking for her life to change. When she makes him an offer he can’t refuse thanks to the zeroes attached to it, Mike heads to London to become more than a dancer and to turn Max’s life inside out. Tasked with turning a misogynistic period piece of a play on its head, Mike and his dancers have to burn the theater to the ground and reset Max’s life in the process.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance is worlds away from where the trilogy of films started, but so is the film’s protagonist. At almost two full hours, the first two acts unfold like a rom-com. A rich woman sweeps a younger man away to London after paying for a lap dance. It’s a himbo Cinderella story that is perfect for Valentine’s Day, and in that regard, it works. That said, for those coming into the film for another Soderbergh campy stripper movie, you’re not going to get it. And that’s the point, take it or leave it.
That said, the film’s last act is a complete smorgasbord of eye candy. The dancers are gorgeous and athletic, and their musical numbers play like a greatest hits for the trilogy while also offering something completely new. While this segment can feel disconnected from the whole film at times, Mike’s last dance is absolutely something you can’t miss. It’s sexy, athletic, and the nods to Step Up can’t be missed.
Tatum is a talent, and while I love calling him a himbo in many of the characters he’s played, Mike included, there is an emotional intelligence that our male lead has that charms endlessly. Unfortunately, his tempered and mature emotional responses rub wrong against Hakyek’s eccentric millionaire divorcee, who embodies the Latina stereotypes. It can be too much at times. But right when it begins to get annoying, she pulls back, and the joke lands.
To be honest, in the beginning, I didn’t buy into the chemistry between Mike and Max. But the awkwardness switched to absurd sexiness and it started to simmer, ultimately paying off by the film’s end. I’ll be the first to say that there are pacing issues and that the narrative isn’t entirely hammered out, but that doesn’t remove any of the entertainment from the film. If I need to critique this popcorn flick with heart, it’s not because it’s a film that is wildly different than its predecessors, it’s because Zadie, Max’s daughter, is a subplot that while funny in parts, never really hits emotionally, despite the film wanting it to. We spend too little time with her and don’t get to see her relationships with Mike and Max actually develop to pay off in the end.
Ultimately, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is for more mature audiences, and I don’t mean because of the dry-humping. It’s a fantasy for mature women who have had to stifle themselves for a man. The film has a play within it (strip-play, really) that is all about encouraging women to take what they want. It’s a fantasy for Hayek‘s Max, and the film as a whole tells you who its audience is and what its goal is from the jump, and I appreciate it. While this isn’t what audiences have come to know from Magic Mike, it still has a lot to love. Channing Tatum knows what he’s doing, and for that alone, this himbo Cinderella deserves a crown.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance is playing in theaters now.
Magic Mike's Last Dance
- Rating - 7.5/107.5/10
While this isn’t what audiences have come to know from Magic Mike, it still has a lot to love. Channing Tatum knows what he’s doing, and for that alone, this himbo Cinderella deserves a crown.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.