The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - MAGIC MIKE’S LAST DANCE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - MAGIC MIKE’S LAST DANCE

Magic Mike's Last Dance review
Mike Lane finds himself directing a male-stripping themed show in London's West End.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek Pinault, Ayub Khan Din, Jemelia George, Juliette Motamed, Vicki Pepperdine

Magic Mike's Last Dance poster

A glamorous socialite takes a rugged man from his gator-infested home to the bright lights of a major western metropolis. Out for revenge against her rich ex-husband, a woman brings a seemingly out-of-depth American nice guy to London with the hopes of ruining her ex's business, which she has recently gained control of. Sound familiar? Yep, Magic Mike's Last Dance is two parts Crocodile Dundee, three parts Ted Lasso.

Magic Mike's Last Dance review

The male stripper franchise has had an odd trajectory. Steven Soderbergh's first movie attracted a girls' night out crowd hoping to get a glimpse of some buff male flesh, but served a somewhat prudish and judgmental look at the world of male stripping. The sequel, Magic Mike XXL, saw Soderbergh replaced in the director's chair by his frequent collaborator Gregory Jacobs. That sequel delivered the fun night out audiences thought they were getting from the original, with lots of stripping sequences for the ladies and a bromance narrative for the lads. Soderbergh returns for a third instalment, and along with him so does the surprisingly conservative streak of the first film.

We find Channing Tatum's Mike Lane serving drinks at parties run by Florida's wealthy elite. This is the sort of gig most of the population would aspire to, but it's portrayed here as a sign that Mike is down on his luck. His furniture restoration business, which the first film sold as a more noble alternative to dancing in a thong, has gone bust because of the pandemic. When the party's host, Max (Salma Hayek Pinault), learns of his past life as a stripper, she offers Mike $6,000 for a private show. Mike accepts, and things get so heated that the pair end up in bed. Impressed by his skills, Max offers Mike $60,000 to accompany her to London and direct a show centred around male stripping to be held in the old theatre she has won from her millionaire hubby as part of divorce proceedings.

Magic Mike's Last Dance review

One of the most clichéd storylines in the musical genre is that of the plucky protagonists putting on a show in the hopes of saving some beloved institution from an evil capitalist who wants to turn it into a variation of a Starbucks. With Magic Mike's Last Dance, Soderbergh flips this idea and asks us to root for the Starbucks. We're told that the theatre -  known as The Rattigan – has been hosting the same stuffy period comedy for decades, yet despite packing out every night, Max decides it needs a reboot. Disguising American cultural imperialism as faux progressivism, there's much talk here of how outdated is the play's narrative of a woman having to make a choice between a rich man and a broke man who makes her happy. Sure, it's clichéd, and I'm no fan of Britain's obsession with period comedies and dramas, but people still lap this stuff up. Magic Mike's Last Dance is guilty of doing the very thing it's critiquing, with Max essentially forced to choose between staying in a world of money or taking a chance with potless nice guy Mike. Despite several rants by various characters about misogyny, ultimately this is a movie that suggests a woman just needs a good man (or at least a good dick) to make her happy. It's as though it was written by one of those gammons who dress like Nascar drivers you see on social media spouting shite about how all a man wants from a woman is to come home to a good home-cooked meal.

Magic Mike's Last Dance will also appeal to conservatives with its stance on free market capitalism. London's council is portrayed as the villain because of regulations regarding what alterations can and can't be made to The Rattigan. God forbid a council would like to protect historical buildings. In an era when London is being strip-mined and sold off to various foreign billionaires and oligarchs, this stuff really leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. Are we sure Rishi Sunak didn't write this thing?

Magic Mike's Last Dance review

If you're expecting some male flesh you'll be largely disappointed, as you're likely to see more at the shirt-swapping climax of your average football match. It does open with an admittedly hot scene in which Mike performs for Max, with Tatum and Hayek seeming to really enjoy themselves, but that's as steamy as it gets. The will-they-won't-they narrative has about as many stakes as that of an Elvis movie, and while they certainly display sexual heat there's a severe lack of romantic chemistry between the pair. For a character who has had three movies bearing his name, Mike is something of a non-entity, and the decision to have Tatum largely refrain from strutting his very impressive dance moves this time is an odd one. Soderbergh's ability to fashion a fun sequence occasionally enlivens the by-the-numbers drama, with a brief dance number on a bus the highlight, but with a central romantic plot you'll be hard pressed to care about, Magic Mike's Last Dance has occasional bumps but is mostly a grind.

Magic Mike's Last Dance
 is in UK/ROI cinemas from February 10th.

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