I think it’s safe to say that I’m NOT in the target demographic for Magic Mike’s Last Dance. I haven’t seen the previous two Magic Mike movies. I haven’t seen the Magic Mike LIVE stage show, despite living in Las Vegas. And, the fact that Channing Tatum spends about half the movie shirtless is completely lost on me.
Despite these differences from Magic Mike’s core audience, I had a good time watching Magic Mike 3. It’s FUN, something so many films seem to forget to do nowadays!
The Plot — Magic Mike’s Last Dance
Mike Lane’s back. His days as a male stripper are behind him — at least that’s what he likes telling those who ask.
Currently, Mike pays the bills bartending around Miami, including corporate gigs with those well-healed One Percenters. Once used to being in the spotlight, he now seems happy to serve up drinks, and melt into the background.
Maxandra Mendoza seemingly has it all. Wealthy Londoner raising money for charity, still looks like Salma Hayek, and the kind of power that summons good looking male bartenders without even having to say ‘Hi.’
But, Max, played by Salma Hayek Pinault, lacks happiness. And, after bribing Mike to give her a dance, Maxandra gets her groove back.
YES, it’s EXACTLY what you think. But, Max has the money to make things happen for Mike. And she has $60,000, and a private jet to London that convinces Mike to go along for the ride.
Once in London, Mike STILL doesn’t know what he’s there to do, but he does have a place to stay — Max’s house. NOT surprised to see him there are Max’s daughter, Zadie, played by Jemelia George; and Max’s disapproving chauffeur/manservant, Victor, played by Ayub Khan Din.
They’ve seen Max do this before. And, now that her marriage has hit the rocks, Zadie and Victor fear they’re she’ll take down Mike with her in her ‘First-Act Max’ manic phase.
But, Mike is a full grown man. So, it’ll be up to Magic Mike to make his dreams, and Max’s hopes come true in BOTH of their Second Acts.
The Good — Magic Mike’s Last Dance
I said it in my intro, and I’ll say it again here. Me, Dragon Movie Guy, falls just about as far outside the target demographic of this film.
I don’t care about Channing Tatum’s abs, nor do I care to see him walk around shirtless for half the movie. The extension of this goes to watching a 42 year old Channing Tatum give lap dances to women in their 50s.
HOWEVER, the dance sequences in Magic Mike’s Last Dance are FUN, Creative, and well executed.
The first dance we see in the film (the one partially seen in the film’s trailer), seduces an emotionally drained Max. Mike slowly circles the room, feeling out Max’s energy; before going into a dance that will define the rest of the film.
I am not a dancing expert, or even passing enthusiast, so I won’t pretend to breakdown Mike’s dance moves. However, we see Mike show why his nickname is… Well, Magic.
Slowly, Mike works his way around Max, building rapport as he goes. He builds her comfort level around him, until eventually incorporating her into the dance routine itself, resembling a pairs figure skating program.
Later in the film, Mike teaches this dance to one of his new dancers in London. Mike explains that it’s all about permission — getting permission, yes, but more about her GIVING him permission, than him getting her permission. When he explains the permission-giving process, even I can see there’s a method to his ‘Magic’.
One move leads to the next, building trust and rapport, to where she gives her permission to him, the dancer.
The Good — Magic Mike’s Last Dance
Mike — The Director
Not having seen the previous Magic Mike movies, I can’t tell you what Mike’s character history involves, or what he wanted out of life. But, any physical activity, be it dancing, stunt performers, or professional athletes, can eventually lead to coaching/directing.
We start the film with Mike still at the top of his game when it comes to dancing, but mentally and emotionally done with that life. As Mike works his way into Max’s mind and soul, she allows him the time and space to ascend to Directing other dancers at a fancy, elite British theater.
We see Mike auditioning dancers while Max receives dance after dance, but we see him putting the pieces together the whole time. Mike also builds up his dancers through the dancing process — not just which foot goes where, but really getting into the head of what the dancer is trying to do for the audience.
The storyline of Mike’s maturing into a leader of men, not just a dancing seducer of women makes this movie a compelling story about maturity and character growth, and not just about shirtless Abs everywhere.
The Good — Magic Mike’s Last Dance
Not Being What It’s NOT
Director Steven Soderbergh’s been down this road many times before, with Erin Brockovich, Oceans 11 — mastering what not to do, as much as what to do.
Soderbergh channels ‘Pretty Woman’ into Magic Mike, knowing this film is a fun ride about eye-candy and hope/redemption more than anything. He keeps the storytelling focused on the core story, and doesn’t try to be everything to everybody all the time.
Soderbergh introduces Max’s daughter Zadie as our narrator and point of view character in Max’s history. Jemelia George does a great job in this role, and we easily could have gotten more Mother/Daughter scenes with the two. But, that would have distracted from the main story.
This also holds true with the snarky Manservant, Victor; and the soon to be ex-husband — both give strong performances that could’ve easily been expanded upon, but our Director keeps the story focused on our two lead characters and the dancing.
ALWAYS Keep It Simple.
The Review — Magic Mike’s Last Dance
As we move into the Second Act of the film, we put the band back together — or more specifically, put the dance troupe together.
Other than one internet video, we get a quick montage of dancers auditioning, then training. Then, we move on to another montage of the dancers bonding while resolving a subplot involving a woman who could derail their show.
We meet many of the dancers by name and Abs, but we don’t waste too much time getting to know them other than their hairstyles and dance moves. Soderbergh keeps the film’s run time under two hours by streamlining the dancer’s personalities, and keeping the focus on Mike and Max’s stories.
We touch on all the plot points one needs to for a Pretty Woman style story, but we keep it to a bare minimum. The Ex-Husband, the obstacles to the big show, and the personal journeys. All are there, but they don’t distract.
This allows multiple minutes-long dance scenes shown in their entirety. Soderbergh and Writer Steve Carolin also keep the pace moving with just enough Comedy in just the right places.
Like many Romantic Comedies, Magic Mike’s Last Dance follows a formula, but because it’s executed so well, you don’t feel the plot points being hit, or roll your eyes at what you know must be coming. You can just sit back and have a fun time at the movies, even though the film’s subject matter isn’t one which one cares much about.
Channing Tatum does a decent job in the titular role of Magic Mike, even though he’s largely an understated character, speaking more with his Abs and dance moves. Having not seen the earlier films, I can’t tell you if this is the same or different from those films; but his performance in this film is strong enough to stand on its own.
Salma Hayek Pinault’s Max is the true main character of the film, with Magic Mike along for the tour of London. Strong supporting characters avoid getting in the way, and strong dance sequences keep up the energy level for the whole film.
Not usually the type of movie I would go to see, but Director Steven Soderbergh delivers a fun and funny flick that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Worth a watch, even if you’re not in the target audience/demographic.
Three And A Half Stars out of Five.