“So what’d you think?,” someone asked with an impish grin as I emerged from the theater.

“It’s…steamy,” was about all I could muster in the (over-heated) moment.

Now that I’ve cooled down a bit, I can assemble my deeper thoughts on Magic Mike’s Last Dance and where it falls in the Magic Mike canon.

Never mind. I can’t rank them. Each of the three Magic Mike movies brings something slightly different to the table, or on the table. The first Magic Mike was a surprise hit that started off crazy fun, then veered dark; the second (MM XXL) was far more superficial – and more fun; the latest serves up fun and funny with a beefy chunk of seriousness – couched in an array of moves fit for a Fifty Shades of Grey meets Dirty Dancing mashup. I don’t recall the first two Mikes being quite so risque. Here, the dancing is erotic, and captivating, and ultimately expresses a love story. If that sounds appealing, read on…

As the film opens, we learn that “Magic” Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) has once again fallen on hard economic times. He’s broke – reduced to tending bar at a charity fundraiser in Florida. He’s technically retired from stripping. But as we quickly discover, he’s still got the bod and the moves to get back on the bike. All it takes is some coaxing from Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault), a wealthy socialite in the midst of a bitter divorce. One, ahem, private dance and she’s hooked on Mike and his unique set of skills. She invites him to live with her in London for a month and join her in what she promises will be a great opportunity. It involves a historic theater, and the chance to whip a new set of young hot dancers into shape for one very special, very stimulating performance.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance reunites Tatum with director Steven Soderbergh, who helmed the first Magic Mike in 2012. But the ‘Kings of Tampa’ – who brought the heat in MM1 and 2- are sidelined for this particular storyline (Zoom cameos don’t count). Instead, the supporting characters (and scene stealers) we latch onto are the omniscient butler Victor (Ayub Khan-Din) and Maxandra’s teenage daughter Zadie (Jemelia George).

Ultimately, Magic Mike is not a bad movie; and it’s not a must-see. It’s a you’ve-been-forewarned-about-the-steam-so-choose-your-viewing-partners-carefully movie.

Is this really ‘the final tease’ as the movie poster proclaims? Ah, such a loaded question…

Magic Mike’s Last Dance hits theaters Feb. 10 — just in time for Valentine’s Day.


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