Ranking the Magic Mike Films

The Magic Mike trilogy has somehow become of the best trilogies ever made. The best part about that these movies is that they all feel like their own thing and never feel repetitive in any substantive way. Here is how I rank them.


3. Magic Mike’s Last Dance [2023]

The number one thing I wanted from a third and final Magic Mike movie eight years later was that I did not want it to feel like a retread of either of the first two movies. I wanted Last Dance to continue the tradition of each of these films standing on their own and feeling different than what came before. This final Magic Mike did just that.

In many ways, this film reminded me most of Matrix Resurrections. This entry really did not need to exist in any way and used its text to actively grapple with that fact. A rich entity descends upon our star and pushes for him to generate content for them. And now our star has to find some motivation and reason to run it back. The solution of course is to try to create something new.

The biggest new part is that Channing Tatum is in many ways a very passive and reactive character, as the movie’s protagonist in many ways is his sudden new rich (and beautiful) benefactor, Salma Hayek. Salma Hayek plays an actress who married a rich old man and now has more money than they know what to do with. It’s a real stretch for her.

Hayek’s character though is on her way to divorce and realized that she has a great empty hole inside of her, and she is trying to find a way to fill it. Like all of us, Hayek is a mess of a human being and makes mistakes and runs people over. She may not have grown up in wealth, but now that she has it she is afraid to lose it. But she also wants to be happy. And she is trying to find a way to achieve both.

Hayek and Tatum’s characters cross paths, and it leads to a sincere and fun story about trying to create meaning and satisfaction for yourself in a world set up to punish you for desiring such things.


2. Magic Mike XXL [2015]

Just like the final film, the most appealing aspect of XXL is that it feels completely different from the first film. While the first film was in many way a takedown piece of the whole big country, this sequel is actually much more of a hangout movie. It is a bunch of dudes reconnecting with a purer version of themselves who were more interested in artistic expression and self-satisfaction instead of commerce. It is a movie fundamentally about people and the beauty of them. While I personally prefer the first film, the greatness of this series of films at this point is that the first two films offer something great but in completely different ways that different people could connect with.


1. Magic Mike [2012]

Magic Mike felt like a real throwback film in many ways. It is amazing when you go back and watch “mainstream” films from the 80s and the early 90s designed for wide audiences, and they are just very casually populist (not in the insane way) and critical of the institutions of the United States (also not in the insane way).

This led to me to create the Roadhouse Rule. If your modern “anti-rich” film does not have more interesting or substantive politics than Roadhouse, I do not care about the politics of your movie (suck it, The Menu). 

But Magic MikeMagic Mike passes that test. Magic Mike is an evisceration of United States Capitalism. It is a compelling character study. It is a fascinating exercise in stardom for Channing Tatum. The industry has starved audiences of these types of movies for so long, and it is so upsetting.


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