Magic Mike’s Last Dance offers a physically impressive, intellectually awkward spectacle
If you walk into Magic Mike’s Last Dance hoping for some sort of narrative throughline from the first two films, you’re going to be disappointed. In fact, save a few musical sequences, you’ll probably be disappointed in general.
Mike (Channing Tatum) is the only returning character in the soon-to-be-released third film in the franchise about male exotic dancers. Mike’s stripper friends who we learned to love in the first two films make only a brief cameo appearance in one scene, via a stilted Zoom video chat. [Already something of a misstep for the trilogy’s finale.]
Instead, Magic Mike’s Last Dance follows Mike ten years after the events of the second film. He no longer strips, but serves as a bartender at highfalutin events. After a private party he meets Max (Salma Hayek Pinault), a recently divorced woman who, after hearing from one of her guests about Mike’s risqué past, asks Mike to dance for her after the party ends. The performance changes her life, and is admittedly probably the only thing most people will remember about this film.
Max is so impressed she offers to whisk Mike away to her second home in London. When they arrive, she reveals she has won the ritzy Ratigan Theatre in her recent divorce, and she wants Mike to direct a new show there featuring male dancers, to replace an antiquated play currently running at the Ratigan about a woman’s “marriage problem.” The two creative (and somewhat romantic?) partners take to the streets of London in an epic montage sequence in search of the next great male strippers to comprise the cast of their new show.
Though the entire plot operates on the assumption that women are largely sexually repressed, there is some well-intended voiceover from Max’s adopted daughter, Zadie (Jemelia George) about how dance creates community, liberates people, and allows us to express our desires. We give the film an ‘A’ for its efforts in broaching such complex themes, even if the commentary is a little heavy-handed.
The film is an excellent showcase of diverse, up-and-coming male dancers with some serious skill. The moves are impressive, we must admit, even if laughably awkward at times.
In sum, don’t see Magic Mike’s Last Dance if you’re hoping for an intellectual challenge, a masterclass in character development, or a display of narrative craft. Do see it, though, if you’re seeking a fun time or some spectacular, sexy dancing.