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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.17%
Worth A Look: 8.7%
Average: 2.17%
Pretty Bad: 30.43%
Total Crap56.52%

3 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Next Best Thing, The
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by Greg Muskewitz

"The next to the last worst thing."
1 stars

By the time you reach the consummation of "The Next Best Thing," it's wholly obvious that this is a sad moment in cinema seeing as how the director John Schlesinger had once helmed such distinct projects as "Far from the Madding Crowd," "Marathon Man," and the highly totted "Midnight Cowboy." Because no matter how hard you look at it, "The Next Best Thing" is nothing more than a cardboard mainstream movie pushing suerficial homosexuality and even more superficial heterosexuality.

The movie starts off breezy and light and even somewhat entertaining. Madonna stars as Abbie, a middle-aged woman who teaches Yoga and has her biological clock ticking steadily away. She's had lots of relationships that go awry, which is the case with her now ending relationship with Kevin (Michael Vartan). She runs to Robert (Rupert Evertt), where he is to her the best friend, she is to him the fag hag. There's the usual "I told you so," from Robert, but he's also mourning over the death of a gay friend. A little time passes and the two stay together alone on New Years, get drunk and end up sexually entangled. He's still gay claiming it to be accidental and a mistake, but she ends up pregnant. Abbie is keeping the baby but she gives Robert the choice of being the child's father, or just being a "distant gay uncle." He chooses to be a father, and suddenly it's six years later.

Even up until that point it's mildly passable as they've raised the boy into a youngster. It's explained that over the duration Robert has continued seeing and doing guys (he's in the process of doing both with a 'studly' doctor) but all along Abbie has stayed celibate with the main priorty to her son. Then along comes Ben (Benjamin Bratt) who sweeps Abbie off of her feet. He gets along wonderfully with her and just as good with the son. But things become a lot less breezy and a lot less nice when things turn serious. Robert is very jealous of Ben (Evertt is good at emoting the jealousy) and Abbie has always wanted to get married. So as e plans to go back to New York where his firm is, that would mean the child would go with her, which Robert won't tolerate. Abbie offers part-time custody in New York, but Robert has no desire to move there, but won't settle for the vacation visits only while he's not in school in the Big Apple. So suddenly it has become a custody battle over the kid and it portrays it as nothing more than a glossy flashover. It becomes a court case to decide who the child should be with, and then the bomb is dropped: it's not his kid. "His blood is B-positive and we're O." She found this out apparently three years prior when his tonsils were taken out, but this is about the equivalent of the movie's logic. No where did they ever do a blood test just to make sure that he wasn't the biological son of Robert, it was just assumed that because the blood types were different. It's a dominant/recessive thing; many times both parents will have the same blood type but the child's is different --it's normal! But it's a cheap excuse for a cheap excuse of a movie, and it's conveinent since it's explained she briefly got back with Kevin close to conceiving her son, and Kevin also had B-positive.

Right in the midst of the heated court battle for custody, the movie abbruptly ends (I'm not complaining!) and brief explainations are offered as an afterwards. The screenplay by Thomas Ropelewski is a vehicling piece of junk. The movie has no emotions to begin with, so trying to create them for us none the less by placing a kid in the equation is a cheap trick which does not work. How do they expect us as the audience to chose which parent the kid should be with? Why does it want to put us in the "chosing sides" situation if both parents are quite capable of raising him? I think it's only obvious firstly that the boy should go with his mother since it is her child, and more to the fact that she has a complete family. She's marrying brat and there's adequate support from both ends. It might be different if Robert was his father, but seeing as how he isn't AND he's gay, it really shouldn't even be a consideration.

The real question should be, with Everett a real life homosexual, why would he chose to play a character that put gay people in such a light like this? This movie has the I.Q. of a child because it presents us with all these situations and ridiqulous axioms when it can't answer them itself. Maybe this is looking too deep into it, but knowing that Everett was gay made the solo interaction he had with the kid somewhat disconcerting and awkward. That's not meant to be a discriminating remark, but that's how I feel just about the portrayal and portrait this movie makes of it. What happens when something so silly happens in real life? And the ending and reconciliation that come with it, are just completely preposterous and should be unfathomable. But this movie just wants to beat around the bush and skirt all the major issues, and push them aside for a gay-orientated mainstream movie. There's nothing wrong with having gay cinema out there, but this isn't just gay cinema, and the superficial coat it puts over itself is so repremanding and self-righteous, it's pathetically laughable.

When Madonna and Everett get the chance to act, they're pretty good and mostly inoffensive. But neither get a character to 'play' in as so much as they have faces to wipe on and off. It quickly becomes insipidly and inanely funny. As for John Schlesinger, the amounting time he's aquired since releasing or directing anything serious is enough to make the claim that his career has become nothing more than washed out. A sad day indeed.

Final Verdict: D-

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originally posted: 03/18/00 05:03:40
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User Comments

7/10/04 Confessions Of A Teenage Trauma Queen If I were Madonna, I'd change my name too to distance myself from the shame of this. 1 stars
1/06/04 beautie why?ohh why? is rupe gay?he is soo fine!!!! 4 stars
8/09/03 Charles What a crapfest! 1 stars
6/24/03 Jack Bourbon Lesson: If you're gay, and you run into an "Abbey," run your ass off!!! 1 stars
6/20/03 Jana Best movie ever made. Madonna is the greatest actress! 5 stars
5/09/03 mr. Pink Terrible!!! madonna's status in real life makes her unconvincing in this pile of shit! 1 stars
11/11/02 Vicious Toy/Electric Crotch The screenplay's muddled and Madonna's acting is stiff, but Rupert Everett is good. 3 stars
8/13/02 1983 depressing waste:starts as melodrama and goes downhill. watch the lifetime network instead. 2 stars
7/25/02 artemishia can they use american pie anymore in this film? and madonna should stick to singing 1 stars
6/06/02 qtpie I should say not the best! 2 stars
2/04/02 Ashley Corpening I heard Madonna once took a dump onstage. That would be more appealing than this movie 1 stars
1/14/02 Andrew Carden Such A Bad and Tasteless Way To Bring Homosexuality To The Big Screen. 1 stars
4/03/01 Elvisfan Movie cannot be worse than it is, it is torture to see Madonna try to act 1 stars
3/28/01 Jesse L Madonna should have work with Ed Wood 1 stars
11/15/00 Anna I did like the gay parenting portrayal (the reason I watched the movie). Otherwise, UGH. 2 stars
9/23/00 steve webster You can carve this one, man. It's done. 1 stars
6/13/00 13th warrior bull 2 stars
6/12/00 MR joel harwood Its called acting why is RUPERT playing a gay person 1 stars
5/28/00 Belinda I have to say I am a Madonna fan! 4 stars
5/11/00 Kyle Broflovski Good concept handled with all the trancendence of Britney Spears. 2 stars
3/18/00 Paige Bad, bad, bad. Very painful to watch this movie. It sucks. 1 stars
3/18/00 Lame-Oh woulda been more crappier if they put Celine Dion in this flick... 2 stars
3/16/00 Justine Briggs I thought this movie and the acting were pretty bad 2 stars
3/14/00 Mortis I don't like paying to watch cardboard affect a bad british accent.Rupert good-Maddie bad! 1 stars
3/06/00 Sari Great movie! With a running time of 107 min. it sorta drags on...Maddona fans will love it! 4 stars
3/06/00 "Persnickety "Jenn totally predictable, other then that not too bad 4 stars
3/01/00 NC Starts as promising off-kilter comedy; segues into unconvincing soaper. Amateurish Madonna. 2 stars
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  18-May-2000 (M)

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