It’s been eight years since Channing Tatum last graced our screens as Magic Mike. But time hasn’t made Mike any less of a loveable himbo (or a great dancer). In Magic Mike’s Last Dance, he’ll get one more shot at love before the final curtain call.
What happens in Magic Mike’s Last Dance?
I’ll keep this brief, because I’m not foolish enough to think anyone is tuning in to Magic Mike’s Last Dance for the plot.
It’s a straightforward enough setup: after losing his business during the pandemic, Mike Lane finds himself bartending for cash. At the start of the movie, he’s working a fancy charity fundraiser hosted by Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault), who’s in the process of divorcing her cheating husband. When the fundraiser wraps up, Max asks Mike for one life-changing lapdance. Afterwards, he agrees to travel to London with her for a mystery job, which turns out to be directing a theater production.
There, Mike and Max work to turn a boring, uptight play with a cliché premise – a woman forced to choose between love or money – into something scandalous, passionate, and empowering. Despite their earlier hookup (yeah, things progressed after the dancing), they agree to keep their relationship professional moving forwards. But as the saying goes, the heart wants what it wants. And soon, Max is the one being forced to make a choice between love and money.
Look, I’m not gonna lie. There’s a lot of on-the-noise, tell-don’t-show cringey dialogue in Magic Mike’s Last Dance, particularly as the film tries to develop its women empowerment angle. Subtly is not a selling point here.
But the viewers aren’t here for deeply nuanced critiques of gender dynamics and sexuality; they’re here for shirtless body rolls and Ginuwine’s “Pony” and Tatum’s big-hearted himbo energy. (And you will have those things in spades, my friend.)
I will say, the most bizarre and baffling choice for me was the voice-over narration sprinkled throughout the movie. “Teenager reads a Wikipedia-like dissertation on the historical and anthropological significance of dance” just doesn’t seem to mesh with the tone, intention, or general approach of Magic Mike.
A worthy final show?
But enough about the script and the story. Is this a performance worthy of the label Magic Mike’s Last Dance?
Ehhhh. I don’t know.
To be clear, every dancer in this movie is obviously incredibly talented. But two movies in, we’ve already seen a lot of great dancing. One of the reasons Magic Mike XXL worked so well is it made sure we really saw the dance crew as people; it made the audience more invested in their characters on and off stage. A caravan full of talented himbos. Oiled-up bros supporting oiled-up bros.
In Magic Mike’s Last Dance, instead of leading a group of his peers, Mike plays stripping sensei to a crowd of up-and–comers. His position doesn’t feel wrong for where he is in life necessarily. But it’s just not as fun of a dynamic. Instead of dance crew camaraderie, the story hangs on the drama of Mike’s relationship with Max – the threads of which are thin at best.
That said, the best performances are the first and last in the movie, which does bookend Mike’s story nicely. His first dance establishes his chemistry with Max, and his final dance is a rain-soaked, dramatic tribute to their love story. It’s everything in the middle that lacks the flair and intensity of a passionate conclusion. And if this really is Magic Mike’s final curtain call, I wish the journey had felt a little more fun and exciting.