HOLLYWOOD—It is hard to believe that strip-tease drama from 2012, “Magic Mike” has culminated into a trilogy, one that is ending with this last installment, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance.” However, if you’re expecting to see all the gentlemen from the first two films, you would be disappointed because they’re not in this final installment. Let’s be clear you do receive a tease of the other guys via a skype video, while chatting with Mike, but that’s the best of it.
“Magic Mike” was an entertaining film, unlike something you would expect where it feels like you would just be witnessing men taking their clothes off to entertain women. There was a bit more depth to the flick thanks to director Steven Soderbergh who knows how to craft a script that may not be as solid and turn into a positive the best way possible. Soderbergh made magic work somewhat with the sequel, but this third time around, it’s no strip success. Why? The script is really weak and that’s a bummer. The script feels like it doesn’t really know where it wants to go and needs a massive push to get the story going. When the audience first sees Mike (Channing Tatum), he is bartending at a gig in London. The audience has no idea exactly why he is bartending, but we soon discover he lost his furniture business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been relying on funds from his pals to sustain.
That bartending gig catches the eye of his boss, Max Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault). A good thing this movie has going for it is Hayek’s and Tatum’s pairing. Would one argue she is playing a motherly figure to our talented dancer? Yes, and with those prior rumors that Thandie Newton was initially cast to portray the character that Hayek took over, one has to question if that change in casting impacts the overall flow of the movie. I personally didn’t see a problem with the duo, but, you do wonder if a younger woman would have sizzled even more with Tatum.
Yes, that striptease/dance that Mike gives to Max at her request is damn sexy, impressive and fun to watch. But it felt a bit dirty, almost like the two were having sex, without having sex. That dance leads to the two sleeping together and Max soon hiring Mike to choreograph a performance at a famed theater that Max owns and is trying to revitalize life back into.
There are some side narratives involving Max and her ex-husband, her daughter who takes a liking for Mike and a few people surrounding Max’s orbit who love and hate her. There are a lot of ups and downs for the theater as it tries to get permits and approval to host the shindig, while looking for dancers for this upscale striptease or theatre performance as one would call it up and going. There is one bus dance sequence that is absolutely phenomenal in the movie and how they crafted it left me speechless.
The big climax in the theatre is also entertaining, but beyond that there is not much more you get from this last outing. It doesn’t feel final; it feels like an unnecessary sequel. The other characters in the movie including the talented dancers come and come. They are not fleshed out and as a spectator you want to care about them, but there is no character development for us to care about. That is a bummer because the other movies fleshed out other characters that made the films feel complete and we cared about what was going on.
“Magic Mike’s Last Dance” is a major fizzle, because if this is the end, I think fans of the franchise (particularly women) wanted a lot more people, a lot more skin, a lot more character development, a lot more fun, but this is the Salma Hayek and Channing Tatum show solely, and those two alone cannot save this movie.