A little late for Valentine’s Day, but here ya go.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance
For the longest time I thoughtlessly dismissed Magic Mike as mindless garbage for horny mothers and a co-worker I had a huge crush on at Walmart. The original was released during my junior year of ASU and while it was smack dab in the middle of the infamous McConaughessiance (loved Killer Joe at this time), I never gave it a shot. The second one, Magic Mike XXL, came out three years later to surprisingly ecstatic reviews from friends and Walmart girl, and yet I did not see it. Eight years passed and upon stumbling across a fairly interesting trailer for the trilogy capper Magic Mike’s Last Dance, I decided to finally check out the first two, which are now streaming on HBOMax. To no big surprise, the first one was pretty all right…all right…all right.
McConaughey and Channing Tatum were great, but young protagonist who Tatum‘s Mike takes under his wing had little charisma and his character was so unlikeable that it rendered me unable to care about the central conflict of the film. Overall, Magic Mike was a half-good movie, better when it focused on narrative tangents than the actual A-plot, so I wasn’t really expecting much from the sequel, Magic Mike XXL. Boy, was I surprised. XXL ended up becoming one of my favorite road trip movies ever, an amazingly character-focused road comedy that shed the reliance on narrative that the first one had and simply settled for being a fun and even heartwarming comedy about male friendship. This definitely heightened my expectations for the third one, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, which I ultimately found to be enjoyable but very uneven. Let me explain.
The biggest sin the latest Mike movie commits is not bringing back Mike’s squad – Ken, Tito, Tarzan and my favorite, Big Dick Richie. Sure, they have a five minute zoom call scene in the film, but if it was really Mike’s last dance, he couldn’t have done it without the boys. Duh. Any Magic Mike-STANds (that’s what we call ourselves) will tell you that those dudes were only successful because they worked together. In fact, the second movie as a whole was only successful because those dudes worked together, so while it’s great to see Tatum back, the movie is sorely missing that interplay between a group of characters you care about. In fact, this one is surprisingly bad at developing its supporting characters. We only really care about Mike in this movie and I believe if director Steven Sodebergh gave us more scenes with Mike interacting and collaborating with the new wave of backup dancers, we’d ultimately care more about his last dance.
There are three good scenes in the movie and no bad ones. According to Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, quoting some other old movie critic who was dead before I was born, that means it’s a good movie. The opening dance sequence with Tatum and Salma Hayek, really funny here as a scorned lover trying to screw over her husband’s theater business, is among the best and certainly to be most iconic scenes in the entire franchise. I saw it in a theater full of fifteen to twenty middle aged ladies on a bachelorette party and they were screaming at the top of their lungs during this scene. The other scene they were screaming even louder during was the titular Magic Mike’s last dance which involved several gallons of water and simulated fucking. The third good scene here involves bribing a building inspector with a sexy lap dance on a public bus. It’s not as good as the other two scenes, but it did incite some minor howling from the horny moms behind me.
The mediocre comes in the form of not really having a strong ensemble of colorful characters like the previous movies. This movie and the feeling this movie is going for is crying out for a fully realized ensemble so loud that I’m surprised a filmmaker as seasoned as Sodebergh didn’t see that. Maybe he did and this was merely one of his infamous little filmmaking experiments where he fucks over his movie just to see if this one thing works. Magic Mike’s Last Dance feels like its on auto-pilot a lot of the time which really lets down the fervent spirit of the last film. Either way, there’s enough enjoyment to be had in the concluding chapter to recommend it, though I will recommend seeing it in a packed theater with a bunch of married women. I also recommend winning a Magic Mike dance contest seconds before the movie begins, which was really just me awkwardly grinding a theater seat while horny moms screamed my name in the rafters while a guy who worked at the theater begged and pleaded with me to keep my clothes on. Grade: B- (In Theaters)
ALSO STREAMING OR IN THEATERS:
Infinity Pool (B+)
To Leslie (B)
The Fabelmans (A-)
Bones and All (B)
Decision to Leave (A-)
Aftersun (A) – Best Film of 2022
Armageddon Time (C+)
You People (C-)
All Quiet on the Western Front (C+)
White Noise (C-)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (B-)
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker (C+)
Bad Vegan (B+)
Worst Roommate Ever (B+)
Empire of the Light (D+)
The Banshees of Inisherin (A-)
The Batman (C+)
Judas and the Black Messiah (B+)
The Little Things (D+)
Shiva Baby (A-)
Reservation Dogs Season 2 (A-)
Only Murders in the Building Season 2 (B+)
Under the Banner of Heaven (B+)
The Worst Person in the World (B+)
Crimes of the Future (B-)