‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ review: unbelievably stupid


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Donna Summer’s disco classic “Last Dance” does a good job of summing up Steven Soderbergh’s new movie “Magic Mike’s Last Dance”: When it’s bad it’s so, so bad.

movie review

Running time: 112 minutes. Rated R (sexual material and language). In theaters Feb. 10.

The preposterous finale to the stripper trilogy baffles right from the beginning, when an eloquent British teen narrator tells us Mike Lane’s whereabouts as though she’s Elizabeth Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice.” 

Our macho man happens to now be a bartender in Miami and is slinging beachside drinks at the party of a wealthy businesswoman named Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek). After she discovers Mike’s sexy past, Max pays him $6,000 to give her a lap dance to unwind. His seductive performance goes, um, quite a bit further than planned, and makes viewers squirm uncomfortably for several extremely awkward minutes. 

Sadly, in “Last Dance” all the steamy shirtless sequences that were great fun in the first two films are now so long and repetitive that you would gladly tip the guys to stop and put some pants on.

Salma Hayek and Channing Tatum go on an odd journey to London in “Magic Mike’s Last Dance.”
Warner Bros.

Max (Hayek) pays Mike (Tatum) $60,000 to venture across the pond.
Warner Bros.

Nonetheless Max is impressed with Mike’s gyrating torso, and offers him $60,000 to fly home with her to London for a month to do a mysterious “job.”  

But Mike is not jetting to the UK to be her boy toy — the millionaire wants the buff dancer to take over directing duties of a classic play she’s producing at a West End theater called the Rattigan that she’s taken over from her cheating husband Roger. The fake play “Isabel Ascendant” is already a hit, we’re told, but in the first of a cheese grater’s worth of plot holes, she shuts it down for a month to make changes anyway. Max fires the cast and demands Mike throw in a bunch of male stripping scenes to make it somehow more feminist. 

“We’re going to wake them with a wave of passion they’ve never felt before!” the impresario proclaims.

Mike turns “Isabel Ascending” at the fictional Rattigan Theatre into a strip show.
Warner Bros.

Well, I was awoken by a wave of confusion I haven’t felt in a while: How could this slapstick rom-com with a stiff-upper-lipped British butler and gags about the word “loo” possibly be part of the “Magic Mike” series that began in 2012? It bears no resemblance to the two enjoyable films that came before it, and jettisons precisely what made the original sleeper hit so strong: groundedness, rich characters and unexpected depth. 

Instead of a well-told story, we get a quirky, uncommitted backstage-antics plot that makes no sense. Magic Mike traveling to London to direct a Victorian play is like “Leprechaun” going to the hood — he simply does not belong there.

And, dammit, Mike would be better off with his chill, beefcake pals played by Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer instead of trying to impress a bunch of stereotypical Brits.

Tatum remains a funny charmer in the part, but his romance with Hayek is sub-sitcom. The actress suddenly treats every role she plays as if she’s stuck in “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” and all the shouting and cursing never rings true. As her daughter, the teen narrator Zadie (Jemelia George) is precocious but has no real role in the action besides delivering pretentious speeches about how dance is a form of communication. 

Tatum is back to his seductive ways in "Last Dance."
Tatum is back to his seductive ways in “Last Dance.”
Warner Bros.

Most perplexing is that there is a whole new cast of dreamy dancers whose names we never learn and who never utter a single word for the entire movie. You start to wonder: Could they not afford to pay them to speak? 

You hold onto hope that the ending will be bold and red hot. Nope. Director Steven Soderbergh barely builds to the lackluster unveiling of the new “Isabel,” which is little more than witless stripping routines without any real surprises. Earlier, Max announced that she hoped to shock the audience and blow the dust off the theater establishment with the show, but opening night is filled with screaming women who clearly arrived knowing they were going to watch naked men kick and thrust. Nothing revolutionary about that.

By then we’ve caught on to what “Last Dance” really is: an ad for “Magic Mike Live” in London masquerading as a movie. 

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