½ a star out of 5
In my time here at The Scribe, I’ve had the privilege of tackling and reporting on some truly important topics that needed to be shared.
None of those responsibilities have ever come close to the absolutely integral duty of sharing my thoughts on Steven Soderbergh’s latest piece of cinematic genius, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance.”
“Magic Mike” picks up where the last film left off, but Mike (Channing Tatum) has lost his business due to the COVID-19 pandemic (boy, I love it when films reference the recent real-world tragedy and use it as a plot device).
While he is working as a bartender, rich socialite Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayak) requests a lap dance from Mike, and decides to invite him to London to rejuvenate a theater she owns by directing a strip show.
As a straight man who has never seen any of the previous two installments of “Magic Mike,” you could imagine the overwhelming elation I felt when I was presented with the assignment of going out to my local movie theater alone to see “Magic Mike” on a steamy Saturday night.
I was fortunate to find a largely empty showing at 9:20 pm, where I selected a seat far from other sentient beings as I made myself at home in what was obviously a seat designed for two people to sit next to each other.
I went into the theater with zero expectations, predicting it to be a high-budget, soft-core porn piece starring Channing Tatum and other equally hot guys. What followed was far worse.
The greatest crime of all concerning this movie is how utterly boring it is. For a franchise that appears to be all about Channing Tatum taking off his shirt and moving his hips in ways I didn’t think physically possible, this movie is a slog.
It completely lacks any awareness of what it is. It almost feels like Soderbergh got bored of shirtless dudes and wanted to direct the most shallow and unconvincing romance of all time instead.
The plot revolves around Max, who happens to be the biggest walking red flag I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think I’ve ever hated a fictional character in my entire life more than I hate her.
Throughout this movie, Max displays routine disregard for the people around her, including Mike (despite her liking him a great deal). This would not be such a glaring issue if her flaws were realistically displayed as flaws and not made to be fun “quirks.”
Mike, on the other hand, is as utterly shallow as a character gets. Any decision he makes is inevitably propelled by his one desire as a character: to get laid by Salma Hayak. Why does he want this, when Max consistently makes it clear she sees him as nothing more than an attractive asset? I’m not sure. I’m really not sure.
As for the stripping, what I thought would be the selling point and main attraction: There’s not much of it. Like, at all.
Now, I wasn’t looking forward to shirtless guys. But isn’t that supposed to be the whole point of the entire franchise?
I think (I say “I think” because I really have no idea what they were trying to say) there is a subtext about the nature of dance and desire throughout the movie.
At one point, they’ll make an argument that stripping is fun and desire isn’t bad. It’s good to let loose and enjoy yourself! There’s no shame in simple pleasures! Screw the stuck-up bureaucrats! Fine, I can get behind that. That’s cool if you want to make that your thesis.
The problem is that five minutes later they’ll look like they’re arguing that stripping is some sort of higher art form, like it’s on par with “Swan Lake.” Pick a lane. You can’t make both of those arguments simultaneously.
Ultimately, I don’t understand the appeal to the final installment of the “Magic Mike” franchise. There’s minimal stripping, a terrible “love” story, and creative bankruptcy evident in most corners of the film. More power to you if you can find enjoyment here, but this is not going to be for everyone.