Magic Mike’s Last Dance


‘…Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a soiled day-glo thong in the gutter that you’d cross the road to avoid… Soderbergh’s considerable talent which has come undone here like his protagonist’s side-fastening pants.’

Let’s hope this really is Magic Mike’s Last Dance, because if there’s one franchise that’s played out beyond repair, it’s Steven Soderbergh’s male-stripper movies. Back in the sunny, carefree days of 2012, Soderbergh followed up the commercial success of his Oceans Eleven reboot with Magic Mike, a low-budget, politically and socially aware study of male strippers in California. Showcasing top talents in Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike was a notably fresh and well deserved hit, a four-star movie with compassion and believably gritty detail about the hard-scrabble life of the young male performer.

Magic Mike was a must-see movie, not just for cineastes and economists, but also for the Mamma Mia and bingo wings set whose disposable cashola provided Soderbergh with an unexpected cash cow; he could make umpteen personal or obscure projects as long as he kept coming back to Tatum, who keeps himself in good shape. Magic Mike XXL, however, was a vacuous, empty sequel that diminished the first film’s work ethic with a glib talent-show narrative, and this misbegotten third part is about as welcome as a free Tesla. Mike’s furniture business has gone tits up, and rather than let down his investors, he agrees to choreograph a West End show in London for posho entrepreneur Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek, replacing Thandie Newton who thought better of this mid-filming and walked). Max is somehow replacing her stuffy period play at the rather ratty ‘Rattigan Theatre’ with a non-stop male striptease extravaganza, as you do, and Mike’s task is to put together a squad of buff guys and teach them routines to thrill the ladies.

When Max’s precocious daughter quizzes Mike about why he needs to put on the show, she provides a line about societal economic disparity, but Soderbergh has a tin ear for London life in general, and the laughable results (stoic butlers, dithering MP’s) are straight outta Mary Poppins. A scene in which a stuffy Westminster council decision maker changes her mind about giving the show permission due to the performers spontaneously grinding themselves into her on the top deck of a London bus is agonisingly retro; isn’t that what all stuck-up women need to persuade them, to relax and enjoy random strangers grinding their crotches into them on public transport?

Nope. A running joke that gets at least three unwarranted call-backs is how delighted Max‘s child is by Mike’s performance; she’d be a lot more likely to think that the increasingly vapid Mike was a complete dick. London is presented as ridiculously squeaky clean, untypically friendly and Soderbergh is happy to provide free ads for every possible service from Fortnum and Masons to Paddy Power. We climax, if that’s the word, with a ridiculous finale in which Mike, who has promised that he’s never going to dance again, suddenly produces an immaculately choreographed routine that we have not seen him rehearse and prepare in any way. Fitting right into that Valentine’s Day sh*tbox slot that the 50 Shades of Grey movies made their own, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a soiled day-glo thong in the gutter that you’d cross the road to avoid; the box office may ring, but the bell tolls for Soderbergh’s considerable talent which has come undone here like his protagonist’s side-fastening pants.

A Warner Bros. Pictures Presentation, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” slides into UK and US cinemas February 10, 2023. Thanks to Warner Bros UK for big screen access to this movie.


Leave a Reply
  1. There you go. Pure audience appeal with an audience crying out for it and you are running it down because, I guess, you are not that audience. I gave them all a miss and I’ll do the same here, but I do think Tatum is a big draw and often under-rated. His film about the dog sneaked under the radar but audiences found it – as did I. If franchises are the only way to get people to the cinema, let’s keep ’em. They might improve. Remember, critics used to scorn the endless stream of Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan etc, but they kept cinemas going in lean times. No matter how worthy some of the Oscar fodder is, I bet cinemas were wishing there was more Magic in the Mike.

  2. Okay, okay, okay. Will this movie be great? Certainly not. Do I have already have my tickets for my seat reserved on Saturday night? You bet.

    The first film certainly had depth. The second and (sounds like) third one are silly and intended for a girl’s night out, which is exactly what I intend to have.

    The 6 of us haven’t gotten together for drinks, dinner, and a movie since the last Magic Mike, so the quality of the movie actually matters very little to me for once.

    As my friend G said, “We need to reserve our tickets now, before all those crazy thirsty women in their 40s do……oh wait, that’s us.”

    Here’s to Magic Mike XXXXXL, Magic Mike After the Last Dance, Magic Mike Dances Again, Return of Magic Mike, Return of Magic Mike XXL, Magic Mike Dances at the Nursing Home………

    • Sigh. I don’t know why I bother sometimes. Meanwhile Women Talking is unspooling in an empty cinema near you…

        • NO! Do not accept the patriarchy! Down with a magic Mike! Up with Sarah Polley and Carey Milligan! You can do better! No Golden Age to critique either, I guess prep for Magic Mike must be keeping you busy. Will there be an accompanying lecture series?

          • I’m finishing up today’s post now, I was distracted by watching the Magic Mike trailer on a continuous loop.

            I will do a double bill with Mike and She Said, but I’ll be watching She Said alone and Mike in a packed theater.

            Hey, I don’t make the rules……

            • Is this the way of the world, or the way we have made the world? How responsible are we for the way things are?

              I’m totally up for Magic Mike, but they really are phoning these sequels in…

                    • I saw this tonight as planned.

                      My expectations were low.

                      But not low enough.

                      Where do I even begin?

                      You used the word “vapid” and that says it all.

                      It’s in the conversation for the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

                      A stripper movie with no stripping.

                      Constant talk of empowered women with a female lead who will one day boil Channing Tatum’s bunny .

                      A stripper movie narrated by a young girl.

                      A finale full of men dancing with 0 characters development…we don’t even know their names.

                      I could go on but I’d rather not.

                    • It’s in that ‘worst movie’ mix for sure. But everyone I warn about it says, oh, you’re just a prune, it’s just fun, hot guys, dancing, music, lighten up!

                      Thanks so much for confirming that I am not heretical in my opinion about this. As you say, we don’t even know the names of the characters. And that is not any kind of London, ever. Tone deaf to women, horrible music, nothing dance routines; please write a full article about your experience! Please!

                    • Yes, I feel that I must write more about it! I’ve thrown out today’s already written post and am working up something about Magic Mike as we speak. This cannot wait!

  3. Yes, I liked the first one too. Of course, we couldn’t just have one. Hollywood must franchise everything that makes a buck. I would recommend people who haven’t seen the first one see that instead of this, which sounds just as bad as the trailer hinted it would be.

  4. Thoughts that spring to mind…
    Channing Tatum is better than this – see Shantaram. Also he’s DDG.
    Salma seems to be determined to send her career to the bottom of the barrel.
    Americans have watched too much Downton Abbey.

    Also, brilliant critique, made me laugh.

    • I’m not prude! First film was great, this one, not so much. I saw it on a proper big cinema screen but I wish I’d seen it over someone’s shoulder on a long haul flight. The smaller the screen, the better. Or just watch the first one again.

One Ping

  1. Pingback:

Leave a Reply