Magic Mike’s Last Dance is full of missteps as far as romance is concerned. But hey, would you be watching it for a love story?
Magic Mike’s Last Dance Synopsis
The economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic destroys Magic Mike’s long-time dream of owning a furniture business. He gets another chance at career success, though, when an admirer introduces him to Maxandra “Max” Mendoza, a wealthy ex-stage actress and socialite in the midst of an ugly divorce. After a sensual, impromptu lap dance, Max offers Mike sixty-thousand dollars for one month of his time in London. Mike grudgingly agrees and expects sex. However, what Max has in mind is beyond Mike’s wildest dream.
I wasn’t writing movie reviews back then but had I been doing so, I would have included Magic Mike (2012) as one of my favourite movies for the year.
It might not be one of the best that I’d watched that year, but it certainly was one of the most entertaining and surprising.
Surprising because the movie was hardly as sexualised as I thought it would be. Magic Mike (2012) didn’t shy away from sexually provocative elements—director Steven Soderbergh boldly celebrated and embraced feminine desire. But thanks to sincere efforts to explore the men behind the male stripper industry, the story shone with sensitivity and biting social commentary. In the process, crafting two extremely relatable and memorable characters. Channing Tatum’s Mike Lane and the machiavellian Dallas so memorably portrayed by Matthew McConaughey.
Down the road, Magic Mike XXL (2015) attempted another take at the formula. While reviews were generally positive for that sequel, I thought the magic was starting to fizzle. A certain freshness was missing.
With Magic Mike’s Last Dance, the director’s chair is once again with Soderbergh and this time, he attempts to explore the unifying, liberating power of dance too. Sadly, the man stumbles this time around. In all honesty, I feel the movie would have fallen flat had it not been for the incredible dancers Soderbergh was working with.
To be clear, the dances in this “part 3” are just exhilarating and sensuous as the ones in the earlier episodes. Some of the compositions also exhibit extraordinary creativity and artistry, for example, the “bus dance” and Tatum’s splashy pas de deux. I’m inclined to agree that it’s worth watching Last Dance just for the choreography.
But the romance that threads everything together just doesn’t exist; no gentler way for me to say this. Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault aren’t mismatched. Their performances reasonably injected life into their characters too. However, they feel more like a pair of passionate but platonic business partners than repressed lovers. There is just no loving chemistry throughout.
The ending moreover leaves Pinault’s Max in a bizarre place. The character’s almost fervent determination to present a modern feminist take on a misogynistic play stands on the belief that a woman shouldn’t be forced to choose between sense and sensibility. And yet, this is exactly what Max resigned herself to in the end.
What is the message here, if any? Or perhaps there isn’t any underlying message, thus the lackluster romance. With this sequel happening some seven years after XXL, perhaps the whole show is per its name. No more than a loving homage to the dreamy (and hunky) Mike Lane.
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