(CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/Screenshot)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek, Ayub Khan Din, Juliette Motamed, Jemelia George, Vicki Pepperine

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: R for Unstoppable Gyrations (with Permission)

Release Date: February 10, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: If Michael Jeffrey Lane stopped dancing, would there be any reason to make a movie about him anymore? I’d like to think so, but thankfully we haven’t had to face that possibility yet so far. Although, when we meet him at the beginning of Magic Mike’s Last Dance, he’s been out of the game for quite a while. Instead, he’s a gig worker serving bar at a generic fancy event, when he’s recognized by a satisfied customer from back in the day. Then word gets around to Max Mendoza (Salma Hayek, credited with her married name of “Pinault”), who hires for him a private dance. Then immediately afterwards she whisks him off to England to mount a live dance revue on a stuffy London stage. Max is basically using her obscene wealth to get back at her soon-to-be-ex-husband, but when the moves are this electric, who’s complaining?

What Made an Impression?: Magic Mike’s Last Dance kicks off with some narration that contextualizes Mike’s plight in the entire evolutionary history of dance. That voiceover comes courtesy of Jemelia George, who also plays Max’s over-it teenage daughter Zadie. We learn later that Zadie is writing a novel, so I then girded myself for the big reveal that Zadie was actually the author of Mike’s odyssey this whole time. Spoiler Alert: no such luck, but the narration is still plenty effective, offering a sort of grad school thesis-style framework. Channing Tatum’s piercing facial expressions can come across as empty in ungenerous interpretations, but with Zadie’s guidance, there’s no way not to see his journey as deeply yearning and humanistically profound.

Anyway, I’m sure everyone wants to know how much Tatum and Hayek sizzle up the screen together. And obviously they do, there’s no reason to worry about that. Mike and Max’s first encounter is the most brazenly sensual cinematic sequence I’ve seen since the last Magic Mike. For the rest of the movie, they settle into more of a sugar-and-spice odd couple routine, which is nice enough to move the whole thing along.

But obviously we’re all here for the grand finale. And let’s make no bones about it: Mike and his crew do not hold back. The staging is perfectly framed, the buildup gets all the right pieces together, and you can feel the crowd’s cheeky energy. Fascinatingly enough, I was most blown away by the emcee who introduces the dancers. She’s played by Juliette Motamed, who discovers untold delights in describing the fireworks shooting off around her. The pleasure is palpable, and there’s simply no reason to resist.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance is Recommended If You Like: Leaving Every Last Inch of Yourself on the Stage

Grade: 4 out of 5 Thrusts