Category Archives: Channing Tatum

Magic Mike’s Last Dance-2023

Magic Mike’s Last Dance-2023

Director Steven Soderbergh

Starring Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek

Scott’s Review #1,415

Reviewed January 14, 2024

Grade: C-

Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023) is the third and final installment in the Magic Mike trilogy, following the successful Magic Mike (2012) and the dismal Magic Mike XXL (2015).

Billed as ‘The Final Tease’ the sub-title of the last release is rather appropriate since there is nary a bare bum to be found much less any other nudity. Since the film is about the male stripper industry there is laughingly more female flesh than male.

While there are a couple of titillating sequences containing thrusting and gyrating the tone is watered down and extremely safe. Nothing warrants the R-rating that Magic Mike’s Last Dance received.

After my horrific review of Magic Mike XXL in which I awarded it a solid ‘F’ I will keep my manners in check and be mindful that Magic Mike’s Last Dance is intended to entertain on a late night.

I have rated it a generous ‘C-‘.

The film is pretty bad with no character development whatsoever, poorly written dialogue, and little chemistry between stars Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek. Mike is the only likable principal character in the bunch.

I’m very surprised that respected director Steven Soderbergh who received an Oscar nomination in 2000 for the terrific Traffic would have anything to do with this film.

His style is unnoticeable except for a setting of wealth and a brief and mediocre mention of capitalism and the rich manipulating the poor which the director sometimes includes in his films.

“Magic” Mike Lane (Tatum) has suffered a bad business deal that has left him bartending at parties in Florida. He meets a rich businesswoman, Max, played by Salma Hayek, who pays him for one of his legendary dances.

Smitten, Max immediately offers him a job directing a show at a famous theatre in London.  The show will include a smoldering feast of hot new dancers that Mike will choreograph.

The storyline, admittedly secondary in this type of film, has so many holes I wouldn’t know where to start, but the weakest point is expecting the audience to buy Mike and Max as having fallen in love after one dance.

Romance is a hard-swallow made worse by Max’s demanding personality and insecurities over her ex-husband. She’s a bit of a tyrant made more noticeable by Mike’s even-keeled nature.

While not worldly, Mike is kind and I desired to see him paired with nearly any other character other than Max.

Tatum is a much better actor than most assume based on his pinup beefcake good looks. Has anyone seen him in Foxcatcher (2015)? Sadly, the actor is given weak material to work with that does nothing to challenge him.

Furthermore, we are cheated and only see him twice in his underwear. Some stripper.

Supporting characters like Max’s brooding daughter, Zadie, and opinionated manservant, Victor, are stock and given uneven dialogue to work with. They are presumably added for comic moments that never come.

To be fair, the film is set in London in addition to Miami, and a few decent exterior shots of both locales are added which helps the film.

A ridiculous Zoom call cameo sequence meant to include Mike’s ‘bros’ from the other films (Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, and Joe Manganiello) is a treat but has an ill-effect since that’s all we get from the handsome fellas.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance would have been saved if a scantily clad reunion dance had commenced with the ‘bros’ but sadly none was to be found.

The first film, Magic Mike (2012) is the only one of the three worth spending any time on. Pure juicy entertainment mixed with polished machismo is what was offered and Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023) loses the ‘magic’ and instead offers a shriveled pickle of what used to be a commanding phallic symbol.

Magic Mike-2012

Magic Mike-2012

Director Steven Soderbergh

Starring Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey

Scott’s Review #1,302

Reviewed September 28, 2022

Grade: B

In 2012, Channing Tatum was a major Hollywood star. He was cast in starring roles focused on his looks but parts that also allowed him to showcase sensitivity and even some acting chops.

Magic Mike (2012) takes Tatum’s beefcake body and makes a likable hero out of his title character. He is not just brawn but possesses intelligence and a worldly quality that is sometimes lacking in comedic roles.

Unfortunately, the screenplay isn’t developed well and we get just a glimpse of what Tatum, the good actor, could do. Fortunately, two years later he would play his best role to date in Foxcatcher (2014).

Magic Mike teeters a tad too soft for my liking and gives the stripper world a glossy, lightweight haze. Given the subject matter and the director, Steven Soderbergh, the film could have gone much darker as Boogie Nights did with the porn industry in the late 1990s.

Still, Tatum is a star and boogies and shakes his muscular body enough to warrant the price of admission. Matthew McConaughey is also appealing and shockingly plays against type as an older and wiser former stripper, now the manager of club Xquisite.

By day, Mike (Tatum) works as a struggling employee of odd jobs-handyman, car detailing, or designing furniture. But when the sun goes down and the hot spotlight comes on Mike is the star attraction in an all-male revue.

Mike mentors a nineteen-year-old named the Kid (Alex Pettyfer) and teaches him the tricks of the trade. However, Mike’s blossoming romance with the Kid’s sister Joanna (Olivia Munn) is threatened when the drama begins.

Most viewers are not going to see a film like Magic Mike for the dramatic bits or any other measure of story. We’re not discussing The Conversation (1974), Chinatown (1974), or other heady and smartly written dialogue.

That’s a relief because the plot is banal. Who cares if Mike and the Kid are at odds or if Mike and Joanna break up, make up, or launch a mission to the moon?

No, the recipe of the day is flesh and there is plenty of it. Nobody goes full monty or anything but between Tatum, McConaughey, Matt Bomer, and Joe Manganiello, who plays a character aptly named Big Dick Richie, the audience will be left aflutter and quite satisfied.

Soderbergh, an impressive director, knows this and the best sequences occur on the stage. There is music, lights, and razzle-dazzle, as the troupe dance and strips with gusto. With each tie or vest shed amid a shimmering dance routine, pulsating energy makes the sequences appealing.

As showy as these numbers are, and there are plenty of them, I longed for some down-and-dirty drug use or ‘gay for pay’ situations but Soderbergh doesn’t dare copy Boogie Nights with any seriousness.

He intends to entertain and he does.

I wanted more darkness and more investment in the characters. We know little about the supporting characters except for McConaughey’s Dallas, who sadly will never leave the industry.

In the end, I was okay with the stories being secondary. This one has plenty of buff dudes taking their shirts off, and more, for the camera.

And who doesn’t like that?

Magic Mike (2012) was followed by the disastrous and stupid Magic Mike XL (2015) which makes the former seem like a masterpiece.

21 Jump Street-2012

21 Jump Street-2012

Director Phil Lord, Chris Miller

Starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill

Scott’s Review #992

Reviewed February 20, 2020

Grade: C+

21 Jump Street (2012) is a nostalgic ode to the general style of the 1980s, more specifically a popular television series that ran from 1987 to 1991.

The teen police drama launched the successful career of actor Johnny Depp.

He starred as the good-looking leader of a team of young police officers who can pass for high school students, and infiltrate potential drug rings, prostitution circles, or other such shenanigans.

The film is hardly high art nor cinematic genius. The gags are silly and trite, other times not funny at all. But the film contains a freshness that feels cool, sleek, and fun and a throwback to the decade of materialism, and the film never apologizes for this.

The combination of stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum have nice chemistry, turning a standard buddy film into something bearable to watch.

The film is formulaic, but not dull.

The filmmakers strive for an action-comedy hybrid even though the series was only conventional drama and taught a lesson with each episode. They also change course and focus on two characters instead of a group making it more of a guy movie.

Honor roll student Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and popular underachieving jock Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) reunite seven years after graduating high school at the police academy where they are studying to be cops.

Eager to leave their juvenile problems, and their dislike for each other behind, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover at a local high school as part of a Jump Street unit.

As they trade in their guns and badges for books and bagged lunches, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring.

They slowly realize that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier, and they revisit the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they assumed they had left behind.

The film is mediocre and while there is nothing wrong with the film, nothing is outstanding about it either. As the setup poises the audience, Morton and Greg are opposites in every way and must come together to achieve a common goal.

This is a standard cliche told countless times in films such as Stir Crazy (1983) and 48 Hours (1982), the reference being one of the 1980s.

Speaking of the decade of excess, 21 Jump Street achieves what it sets out to in this regard with a clever nod to a revived scheme from that decade.

Set in present times, the film is nonetheless a nod to teen films of the day.

Wild comedy and lavish adventures are in order in every high school situation imaginable. Dating, AP chemistry class, and the senior prom are heavily promoted so that any viewer above the age of twenty-five can reminisce.

A fun and necessary quality is the inclusion of a few of the original cast of the television series-Holly Robinson Peete, Peter DeLuise, and Johnny Depp all appear in cameo roles. This is a treat for fans of the original series and a tribute to its creation, though nothing else is utilized very well and no other history ever quite measures up.

Robinson Peete’s role is nice because she appears as a police officer.

While doing little to honor the television series it is based on, instead of churning out more of a male cop film, the incorporation of the original cast does deserve praise.

The lead actors are charismatic and clever in their roles which saves the film from being a disaster.

21 Jump Street (2012) kvetches too far into slapstick instead of sending an important message to its audience, which it could have.

The box-office hit was followed in 2014 by an unnecessary remake, aptly entitled 22 Jump Street.

The Lego Movie-2014

The Lego Movie-2014

Director Phil Lord, Chris Miller

Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks

Scott’s Review #284

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Reviewed October 24, 2015

Grade: D

A child’s movie in every sense of the word, The Lego Movie (2014) is silly and amateurish. It contains a hackneyed plot and a fast pace that makes the viewing experience quite unpleasant.

Computer-animated and primarily created by imagery, a scene involving two human beings interspersed among all the animations only makes the plot more sappy, overwrought, and predictable.

The film is a complete dud and a waste of energy save for one lone catchy song appearing throughout the film. I am perplexed why this film received mostly positive reviews as I did not share the same sentiment.

The premise is too complex for the target audience, in a Lego universe, where all of the characters are Lego pieces, a mysterious wizard- Vitruvius, attempts to protect a superweapon (Kragle) from the evil Lord Business.

While he fails, he prophesies that a person named “The Special” will one day find the Piece of Resistance capable of stopping the Kragle.

Kragle turns out to be superglue in the human world, as a cameo with Will Ferrell reveals he is the human version of Lord Business and refuses to let his young son play with Dad’s Lego set, thereby threatening to keep the set stationery with glue.

Inevitably, this leads to a tender scene with Dad and his son.

I did not find The Lego Movie engaging story-wise or visually and I was bored during most of the experience.

Admittedly, modern animated films are not my favorite genre- I miss the days of the classic Disney drawing-style films like Bambi or Dumbo both in the 1940s.

The major flaw is the frenetic pacing of the film. Did the powers that be think that all youngsters and parents dragged along suffer from attention deficit disorder? There was no time to pause and ponder what was going on in the story since immediately it was on to the next scene.

The action is non-stop so the film seemed like one long action sequence.

The main character of Emmett, a young Lego piece characterized by everyone as dull is voiced by Chris Pratt. Emmet stumbles upon a young woman named Wyldestyle looking for something at his construction site- she assumes he is The Special and they race to save the world from Lord Business.

Emmet, as far as a lead character goes, is likable enough, and predictably, a romance develops between him and Wyldestyle. We meet various creative characters like Batman and Princess Unikitty.

The film contains a sickeningly catchy song called “Everything Is Awesome” that will stick in the viewer’s head whether desired or not and that is the strongest part. It is not that the song is lyrically great or anything, but it is fun and hum along.

Overly high octane and an uninteresting plot make The Lego Movie (2014) perhaps appealing to young kids in the seven to ten range, but it is a forgettable and tedious experience for this grown-up.

The ending of the film leaves room for the inevitable sequel.

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Song-“Everything Is Awesome”

Foxcatcher-2014

Foxcatcher-2014

Director Bennett Miller

Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo

Scott’s Review #210

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Reviewed January 2, 2015

Grade: A

Foxcatcher (2014) is a dark, disturbing, psychological thriller that achieves greatness based on its bleak look and great acting.

It is a superb character-driven story, based on true events, led by the talents of actors Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, each of whom is excellent.

It is a sports film, but hardly predictable as many in this genre typically are.

The film is set in 1987. Brothers Mark and Dave Schultz (Tatum and Ruffalo respectively) are former Olympic gold medal-winning wrestlers attempting to compete in the upcoming 1988 Olympic competitions.

Despite winning a gold medal, Mark (Tatum) lives in squalor and is reduced to giving pep rallies at elementary schools, meant to be done by Dave (Ruffalo), for very little money. Dave is the more successful brother, a family man living a happy existence.

He is more talented than Mark and very driven.

One day Mark is contacted by wealthy philanthropist John du Pont (Carrell) and invited to live with him at his expansive estate in Pennsylvania and train with other aspiring Olympic wrestlers.

John’s attempts at wooing Dave as well initially fail.

From this point in the story, the film delves into psychologically dark territory, mainly the controlling, disturbing behavior of John, as he attempts to control Mark and woo Dave.

John has a damaged relationship with his mother, Jean, wonderfully played by Vanessa Redgrave. Jean feels that John’s obsession with the wrestling world is far beneath him and their relationship is tense and unloving.

The three principal actors involved in the film are worthy of discussion as the film would not be as complex or compelling.

Let’s begin with Channing Tatum- known primarily as a hunky movie star with questionable acting ability, he proves the naysayers wrong.

I cannot help but compare him to a younger Brad Pitt. It took years and many films for him to be recognized as more than a pretty face and abs to die for.

His performance is understated and calm, but nuanced in his laid-back demeanor. Sometimes anger bubbles under the surface.

Carrell is downright creepy as the affluent yet insecure Du Pont.

Throughout the film, the character seems off. Known mostly for silly comedies he is a breakout performance that, I hope, leads to similar meaty roles. Carrell shows he has what it takes to appear in quality films.

Lastly, Mark Ruffalo, who always plays interesting, everyman-type characters, again emits much emotion from his character of Dave Schultz, a successful, driven, athlete who is also a dedicated husband and father.

With lesser casting, Foxcatcher would not have been as interesting.

Questions at the end of the film will arise. What were John du Pont’s motivations? What effect did his mother have on his actions? How could a man with all his power and wealth end up this sad? Were there inappropriate sexual overtures made towards the wrestlers by John?

Foxcatcher (2014) excels at portraying a dark, layered, moody, true story and teaches that wealth does not equate to happiness and in many instances, quite the contrary occurs.

The film is an immense success.

Oscar Nominations: Best Director-Bennett Miller, Best Actor-Steve Carell, Best Supporting Actor-Mark Ruffalo, Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 1 win-Special Distinction Award (won)

Don Jon-2013

Don Jon-2013

Director Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julianne Moore

Scott’s Review #27

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: B+

 I did not expect Don Jon (2013) to be as good as it is.

Frankly, I was expecting a by-the-numbers romantic comedy.

Written, directed by, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it tells the story of a twenty-something New Jersey bartender who is addicted to porn despite receiving all the female attention he can imagine.

Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore play two completely different women in his life.

The film contains stereotypical, though hilarious and spot-on, New Jersey trademarks. Tony Danza is effective as the brash father.

In the last thirty minutes, the film turns into a wonderful, yet hardly sappy or traditional, love story that makes Don Jon (2013) a positive experience.

Gordon-Levitt is a breath of fresh air and a young Hollywood talent getting his due.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best First Screenplay