Abbie, tired of failed relationships, has a one-night-stand with her gay friend; they agree to raise the resulting baby together.Abbie, tired of failed relationships, has a one-night-stand with her gay friend; they agree to raise the resulting baby together.Abbie, tired of failed relationships, has a one-night-stand with her gay friend; they agree to raise the resulting baby together.
The film tracks the relationship between broody yoga teacher Abbie (Madonna) and her gay best friend Robert (Rupert Everett), who end up in bed together following a rather over-zealous Fourth of July celebration. Although Robert agrees to help raise the resulting child, things become problematic when, several years on, Abbie meets and falls in love with Ben (the vastly underwritten Benjamin Bratt), who asks her to settle down with him.
Although there is some on-screen chemistry between Madonna and Everett, the audience expects more, considering the twosome are real-life friends and basically playing themselves. Everett fares best, pulling out all the stops in a reprise of his previous gay role in 'My Best Friend's Wedding'. Madonna's performance, on the other hand, is constantly inhibited by her mega-star status. It is sadly impossible to forget that she is none other than Ms. Ciccone, meaning that her desperate-for-love character appears somewhat implausible.
The script is a clunker, rendering the first half-hour of the movie cliche-ridden and woodenly acted, as the actors have little to work with. To be fair, it does get better as it becomes less predictable, and it is a good move by director Schlesinger to avoid playing the conventional happy ending card, instead prompting the viewer to ponder for themselves the futures of Abbie, Robert, and their son, Sam (Malcolm Stumpf). This cannot, however, excuse several fatal blunders, including the fact the Next Best Thing suffers from an identity crisis, flailing wildly every which way from forced rom-com humour to courtroom drama, not helped by Abbie's sudden and bizarre personality change mid-film. Perhaps irresponsibly, the script also allows Sam (a rather old-looking 5 year old) little emotional reaction to the troubles between his parents.
Although watchable, with reasonable enough performances, the mediocre script fails to convince, leaving the viewer with a frustrated sense of what should have resulted from a potentially interesting Hollywood pitch.
- Jun 29, 2000