This is how you want to go out? A plotless, sexually-neutered piffle of a stripper movie, barely-scripted, with hardly enough “film” to fill a trailer, much less close to two hours of screen time?
No, I didn’t like it. No, it doesn’t appear that Steven Soderbergh was all that crazy about it, either. At least his lunkheaded “Logan Lucky” had a funny character or two, and was stupid enough that it dared to offend.
The third and final “Magic Mike” movie is just stupid. What “Staying Alive” is to “Saturday Night Fever,” “Last Dance” is to the gritty, sexy, hustling beefcake that was “Magic Mike.”
If Soderbergh was a musician, we’d call this a “contractual obligation album” and shake our heads about the money we just wasted supporting his “art.”
Even Channing Tatum seems a little embarrassed by all this by the time the third act rolls around.
It begins with Mike Lane, back to Miami bartender-for-hire gigs, his furniture business having bitten the dust, his dancing days behind him.
But the newly-separated and rich philanthropist, played by Salma Hayek and given the most idiotic name a tipsy screenwriter could type up — “Maxandra” — takes an interest. Somebody at her charity fundraiser mentions they recognize Mike as the dude, dressed as a cop, who rocked her world at a sorority party or some such.
“Max” wants some of that. Mike’s $60,000 quote (probably his debt) is a bit high, but $6k buys her a lapdance so erotically-charged they needed a stunt double to pull it off…and put it back on again.
Enjoy it. Revel in it. It’s the highlight of the movie, and it comes in the opening scene.
Next thing he knows she’s invited him to London to take over a show at an historic theater that will be a bone of contention in her divorce settlement. He’s to turn a stuffy period piece hilariously mistitled “Isabel Ascending” into a cutting edge beefcake dance revue, “revenge” against Max’s cheating ex.
The dancers — recruited from auditions, Youtube videos from Rome, parks and street corners — are given no names and no personalities. That points to how little Warner Brothers wanted to spend on a supporting cast.
The dance scenes aren’t bad…at first. Folding them all into a “show” for the finale is something of an unwatchable debacle.
The obstacles they must overcome — their feelings for one another, the colorless ex and his Very British way of cutting Max’s legs out from under her, the gods of dance who’re offended by all this — don’t amount to a hill of fava beans.
At one point, the screenplay decides to let Max’s aspiring novelist 14 year-old daughter — mentioning her by name constitutes child actress child abuse — voice-over narrate this tale as if it’s a novel she’s basing on the real life “phase” her adoptive mother is going through.
Thandiwie Newton was originally slated to play Hayek’s role, and while Salma is no slouch and comes away from this unbruised, you have to wonder what the testy and triggered Newton was thinking when she signed on in the first place, and what she saw that made her flee the way everyone else should have.
Feminist lip service in the finale? Sure. Hell, at one point Soderbergh tries to slap a little “case the joint” caper comedy “Ocean’s Eleven” in this, he’s that desperate.
When Mike makes a suggestion about one particular number he’s dreaming up for his dance event, that it needs to be “stripped, oiled-down and spanked,” the dude is talking about this movie, which buries a franchise so thoroughly you wonder if director and star will be able to crawl out of the grave they and this idiot screenwriter dug for themselves.
Rating: R for sexual material and language.
Cast Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek, nobody else you ever heard of.
Credits: Directed by Steven Soderbergh, scripted by Reid Carolin. A Warner Bros. release.
Running time: 1:50