Steven Soderbergh’s 2012 Magic Mike was a romp for one of our most eclectic directors. Channing Tatum drew on his pre-actor experience as a male stripper to create a sexy gift for horny housewives the world over.
But aside from that niche audience, the appeal of watching muscular men gyrate and thrust in assless chaps proved to be limited, and many were disappointed with the monstrously vacuous (non-Soderbergh) 2015 sequel, Magic Mike XXL.
Now, inconceivably, Soderbergh has allowed himself to be lured back for the threequel. And while bad, Soderbergh is usually better than many directors’ best, this has to be viewed as a misfire.
Mike, now broke and tending bar, gets recruited by a wealthy London socialite (Salma Hayek) to ostensibly assemble an international team of champion male strippers (such things actually exist) in order to revive a theater she owns. Yes, the writers couldn’t come up with anything better than the tired old “Let’s put on a show” trope.
The dance sequences are skilled but overproduced and lack real verve. Hayek sizzles at first but looks bored by the end. One bright spot is Ayub Khan Din as Hayak’s dry-wit butler. A third sequel is unlikely. (112 min)