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'Magic Mike’s Last Dance' is a different kind of delight

TM & © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

While it may be true that, as my colleague Hugo said, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is the least sexy of the Magic Mike movies, it’s also true that its two main set pieces make the film sexier than 99 percent of what will be released in the movie theater this year, and one of those scenes rivals anything else in the Magic Mike trilogy for raw heat.

But my heart started racing early on for a different reason, when I realized this was going to be a film about artistic creation. Channing Tatum’s intrepid male stripper has left his dancing career behind for a business venture that failed, and now he’s just making ends meet. He seems happy enough, but when he meets Salma Hayek Pinault, who’s about to divorce her very rich husband, and she offers him $60,000 to come work for her in London for a month, that’s pretty hard to turn down. Because of the money, yes, but also, I mean, Salma Hayek. She wants him to create a stage show featuring male exotic dancers that will play at her husband’s stuffy theatre, which she now controls. Mike is not a choreographer, but she inspires him, and he inspires her, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Usually, no one likes to see the sausage being made, but when it comes to art, watching that process is thrilling. Director Steven Soderbergh drops in scenes that have made a lot of his other movies so much fun—the “building the team” montage, the scheming to overcome an obstacle so they can save the theatre, and so on. Combine that with the push and pull and frustration and breakthroughs of the creative process, and this is purely entertaining, showing us the fictional creation of a show that actually exists in real life.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance doesn’t burst with the exuberance of the trilogy’s previous installment, Magic Mike XXL, and it’s far less concerned with the actual dancing, but, then, so is Mike himself. And this is fine—the other Magic Mike movies already exist, we can watch them whenever we want. This one wants to be something different, and it’s a delight in its own way.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.