Channing Tatum gives a stellar final performance in ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’


Emma Kogel

Illustration by

David Matos, Arts & Life Editor

Mike Lane is drawn to the stage in the same way that I’m drawn to any scenario in which I get to see Channing Tatum shirtless – there’s no separating us.

Tatum returns for one last performance as Lane, the Florida stripper, in the third film of the “Magic Mike” series, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” which premiered in theaters on Feb. 10. Though many might disagree, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” is the best of the trilogy. It is the most entertaining and its plot is the strongest of the three.

Nearly eight years after Lane hung up his thong and unraveled the last of his crumpled paper bills, he finds himself bartending at catered events in Miami after losing his furniture business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even fictional ex-strippers have suffered the consequences of the pandemic, go figure.

However, not all hope was lost for Lane when the wealthy socialite, Max, played by the stunning Salma Hayek, essentially plays fairy godmother and comes to Lane’s rescue at one of her charity events.

Max offers Lane an irrefusable $6,000 to perform a private striptease for old times’ sake. Lane puts on a mind-blowing performance proving that Tatum, even at 42 years old, hasn’t lost the magic that won over the hearts, and other body parts, of fans of the film franchise.

Impressed by his skills, Max invites him to her place in London to rewrite and choreograph the outdated stage production of “Isabel Ascendant,” no cover letter required.

Hayek was a phenomenal addition to the “Magic Mike” franchise as Lane’s newest love interest. My problem with the first two films, “Magic Mike” and “Magic Mike XXL,” was the lack of depth and character from Lane’s love interests. Both were hardly missed when the franchise moved on to the next installment with little explanation of how Lane’s previous relationship ended.

However, Steven Soderbergh, the director of “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” did something different and created a movie that almost exclusively focused on Lane and Max’s peculiar relationship as a collaboration. The whole film shows their growth as a couple as they join forces to assemble the production and battle Max’s wealthy, estranged husband who is consistently doing anything in his legal capabilities to put a halt to the show.

Also, I enjoyed the relationship between Max’s daughter, Zadie, played by Jemelia Geroge, and Lane, as it mimicked Tatum’s close relationship with his daughter, Everly Tatum.

My main criticism of “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” is the lack of promiscuity in any of the dance scenes in the film, which is a huge deviation from the previous films. Most of the male dancers are wearing full-legged pants the whole time and it’s only Tatum who wears nothing but boxer briefs in two of the scenes — the second sexy thing a man can wear aside from straight-up boxers.

I mean, I’m just confused about how we went from Matthew McConaughey sporting nothing but a g-string in “Magic Mike” to shirtless men wearing jeans among the most provocative imagery in this film.

Like every “Magic Mike” film, one of the central themes of the film is female desire. Both previous movies show that a woman’s truest desires can be fulfilled by male strip shows.

Since I am nothing but a gay man, I can’t confirm or deny the accuracy of this thesis, but, in my opinion, “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” handles the subject of female desire and consent the best. For one, in the two previous installments, the dancers would forcibly grab and fling the girls over their shoulders or thrust their genitalia in their faces without consent.

The newest film deviates from the last two films and traditional male strip shows altogether because consent and permission are incorporated into each routine. For one, Lane asks if he could touch Max before stripping for her and asks her to give him a signal if she’s uncomfortable to which she replies with “I’ll fucking slap you.”

In the revamped “Isabel Ascendant,” Lane campaigns to have a female host for the production vocalizing her desires rather than assuming a stripper has it all figured out just because they have a penis and abs.

Overall, the film is worth the nearly two-hour-long run-time. Though, I also wish the original assembly of male strippers had more of a presence in this film, the new direction Soderbergh took makes for great viewing. However, if you’re looking for something more provocative, I would opt for the first two films available to stream on HBO Max. You’re welcome.