The Next Best Thing (2000)

The Next Best Thing offers viewers the chance to see an off-kilter romance and drama about the raising of children through standards alternative to modern society. Whatever. It sounded good on paper.

Madonna and Rupert are the best of buds, but he’s gay. So of course it’s only nature and a matter of time before they sleep together and get pregnant. They decide to disclose the identity of the daddy and raise the child together. Why they never went with the virgin birth angle is beyond me. So they raise it. And they do. Then the Material Girl wants said child for herself and it pretty much veers further into absurd soap opera from there on out.

The premise is a rip-off of the earlier The Object of My Affection, which in turn was a rip-off of Chasing Amy. Get prepared for countless scenes of Madonna and Rupert gallivanting about like they’re in a perpetual slumber party. Rarely has a more awkward film been so preachy. It’s a never-ending soapbox of sermons about family values and gay rights. Wonderful but if I’m not mistaken wasn’t there supposed to be a story somewhere?

The movie resides as one half comedy (?) then one half drama, neither of which is consistent let alone entertaining. Somewhere there’s a violent jolt into an out-of-place Kramer vs. Kramer courtroom battle royale. If the audience is supposed to feel for Madonna’s character then nothing like a selfish child custody battle to win the hearts of everyone. Who’s the victim in this? Not the child. It’s the audience.

Rupert Everett may be the only redeeming part of this uneven and mushy dramedy of lapsed judgement. His charm is evident and his leading-man ability carries the film as long as he can until it implodes on itself. I could clearly hear sighs around me of “If only he weren’t gay.” in the theater.

Madonna is clearly the biggest hindrance in The Next Best Thing. Whenever she speaks it’s like she’s reciting lines into a mirror. Madonna has some mysterious British accent she seems to have picked up and is as wooden as a board. If you call what she does in this movie “acting” then you’ll have to register some national parks with the Screen Actors Guild.

If The Next Best Thing really is the next best thing for Madonna’s struggling film career, I’d suggest reconsider her options. And pray to the other Madonna while doing it. At least she would have enough sense not to do a silly remake of “American Pie.”

Nate’s Grade: C-

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at PictureShowPundits.com (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on February 27, 2000, in 2000 Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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