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Davis Journal

The Movie Guru: ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ and other new movies for Valentine’s Day

Feb 09, 2023 02:02PM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Magic Mike’s Last Dance (in theaters) 

Whether you like the final entry in the Magic Mike universe will depend on why you liked the first two. 

If you were there for a bawdy good time with a bunch of hot strippers, you’re going to be disappointed. Director Steven Soderbergh is back and determined to class up the joint, replacing the strippers with erotic male/female dance numbers that are more sensual than fun. Watching it feels more like reading an erotic romance novel than going out to a night at the club. 

While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can be disappointing to people who liked the energy and grit of the first two movies. This one is more romantic, with a plot that can get almost fairy tale-like at times, but by extension it also seems less real. This is Soderbergh’s story now, not Tatum’s, and by extension he ends up serving as more of a vehicle for the fantasy than the hero of the story. Tatum’s now-trademark humor is also muted, which I found myself missing more than once. 

Grade: Two stars 

Your Place or Mine (Netflix) 

It turns out Ashton Kutcher is a pretty good actor. 

It’s one of the welcome surprises in “Your Place or Mine,” the actor’s unexpectedly charming return to romantic comedies. It’s a love story for grown-ups, about time and regrets and learning how to be a parent, and Kutcher ends up bringing a lot of nuance to his character as an aging “rolling stone” who’s only ever been able to commit to one person. Kutcher’s expressions tell you everything you need to know about the character long before the story manages it. 

He's got a fantastic low-key chemistry with Reese Witherspoon, and their seemingly odd couple pairing has such a good flow you never once question their connection to each other. Wesley Kimmel is great as Witherspoon’s son, deftly skirting the edge of a lot of “kid in a romance movie” tropes to deliver a likable, honest performance. You want to see these people as a family, and you can’t help but cheer for them as they realize they already are. 

Grade: Three and a half stars

Somebody I Used to Know (Amazon Prime) 

This isn’t the love story you think it is, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Though it’s billed as a romantic comedy, “Somebody I Used to Know” is more the story of a woman falling back in love with herself. Allison Brie brings darkness along with the charm as a career woman cut adrift, going home for the first time in years to try and recover. When she’s there she re-connects with her past in the form of her ex-boyfriend, who is unfortunately about to get married to someone else. 

This bit does edge suspiciously close to “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (which is also billed as a rom-com), and though it’s handled in a less slapstick way it can get uncomfortable at moments. Thankfully the movie is fully aware of this, and leaves true catharsis firmly in Brie’s hands. Danny Pudi is a welcome addition as one of Brie’s old friends, a welcome anchor for both her and the movie as a whole. 

Grade: Two stars

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected].