‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ Amps Up the Raunch But Lacks Real Romantic Development ⭐️⭐️

If you’re looking for a movie full of lusty moves, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” might be your jam, but you won’t see the Kings of Tampa gang or a cohesive movie about dance, romance or men.

In theory, Mike has given up stripping and his custom furniture business. Mike has plenty of bills to pay off and is working as a hunky bartender, fully and respectfully clothed. One of his former bachelor party clients tips off the wealthy Maxandra Mendoza Rattigan (Salma Hayek Pinault), the woman behind the Miami fundraiser where Mike’s working as part of the catering crew, and after the party, when Mike is in cleanup mode, she asks him to her private quarters for a private and pricey lap dance.

What results is a sexy and very sexual dance that uses walls, poles and tables to simulate sexual activity. The two end up in bed and Mike isn’t a whore so now he can’t take her money, but she offers him an unspecified job in London that includes a new wardrobe from a place called Liberty, a room in her London townhouse and access to her butler Victor (Ayub Khan Din) for advice. There’s no sex because that would make Mike a gigolo.

Max is divorcing her husband. She was once an actress and her wealth all comes from her husband and his family. She currently has control of the Rattigan Theatre which has been producing a stuffy period piece where the main character, a woman,  is forced to choose between a man of wealth and a man who interests her. Mike and Max make a new show, one that involves male strippers recruited by audition as well as from the streets of London and even from social media. The casting department has included diversity that should please everyone, but we don’t really get to know these men.

The original 2012 film, “Magic Mike,” was directed to Steven Soderbergh and written by Reid Carolin. In the original scenario,  Mike and the other men work for Dallas (Matthew McConaughey)and Mike takes the kid, Adam (Alex Pettyfer),  under his wing and teaches him how to be a hot male stripper. Mike then leaves the stripping business to start his furniture company. His love interest is Brooke (Cody Horn) but she’s not essential to the series.  The sequel, the 2015, “Magic Mike XXL,” was also written by Carolin but directed by Gregory Jacobs and has Mike joining his former stripping friends Ken, Big Dick Richie, Tarzan and Tito in a goodbye to stripping last performance at a  male stripping convention in Myrtle Beach. There is, of course, a love interest of sorts, but she doesn’t return for the third sequel. While Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Kan (Matt Bomer), Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez), or the Kings of Tampa,  do make an appearance in “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” the focus is again on Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike Lane, but to the exclusion of character development of the male strippers that are recruited for a theatrical performance.

For “Mike’s Last Dance,” Soderbergh returns as director, but the results are uneven. The dance sequences are well lit, but the scenes off of that stage have questionable lighting. Maybe Soderbergh was going for atmosphere, but the tale told is simple and you’ve probably figured out the ending from the very beginning. If you’re looking for character development and witty dialogue or the slow artful build of a romantic relationship, you won’t find it here in Carolin’s script. Without the Kings of Tampa, there’s less humor, both in terms of bromance and physical bits that dominated “Magic Mike XXL.”

Instead, Carolin attempts to provide a philosophical framework, narrated in VoiceOver by Max and Roger’s teenage daughter, Zadie (Jemelia George). It’s a conversation about the historical significance of dance and dance as a mating ritual. Dancers will likely not buy this. Physical chemistry on stage doesn’t always translate into physical and emotional chemistry off-stage. The villain here is Max’s soon-to-be ex-husband Roger (Alan Cox) and the kind of society that leaves women unfulfilled.

“Magic Mike” is not only a movie, but also a live show. You can see it in Las Vegas or on tour. Heterosexual women obviously are visually stimulated by hard, etched bodies, dancing, bumping and grinding in ways more provocative than Elvis Presley and his pelvis. Tatum and Carolin were reportedly inspired by Tatum’s own experience casting the “Magic Mike” show, but that inspiration isn’t really enough to make a good movie.

I haven’t seen the “Magic Mike” tour, but Los Angeles was the birth place of two provocative shows: Chippendales and “Naked Boys Singing!” It’s hard to imagine that “Magic Mike” or Chippendales male review shows can rival the “Naked Boys Singing!” in terms of reveal and musical wit. Are women really that repressed in other regions? I don’t know about that because the theater scene can get pretty wild, but if you want a lightweight film for your gal pals and gay besties, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” may be the lustful answer. Otherwise, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” is a predictable film with little flare or lines that sting and zing. It’s one of those films that works best when you just view its dance segments.

“Magic Mike” opened on 10 February 2023.




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