The Next Best Thing

The Next Best Thing

Madonna and Rupert Everett play best friends. He's gay, she's not, both are lonely. One night they get drunk and sleep together. The next thing you know, she's pregnant. Rupert decides to move in with Madonna and raise the baby together. Cut to six years later: the baby has grown into a sensitive young boy and everybody's happy. (How can they not be? Despite Madonna and Rupert playing, respectively, a yoga teacher and a gardener, they somehow live in a fabulous house in the Hollywood Hills that only the very rich can afford.) Then Madonna meets The Perfect Man (played nicely by Benjamin Bratt), falls in love... And then suddenly Rupert turns into an insane, evil, hyper-jealous, revenge-obsessed bastard!

This all plays out as utterly ridiculous, though frankly, Everett's character isn't that nice even early in the film, when he's supposed to be "charming". So Madonna - one of the stiffest and most uninteresting actresses ever to be placed in front of a camera - feels really bad and just wants everyone to be happy. Then, in another completely silly plot twist, it turns out that she's been a lying, nasty idiot all along. But guess what? That's right: it all works out in the end.

John Schlesinger's reputation as a director sure has gotten a lot of mileage out of his classic Midnight Cowboy. But that was over 30 years ago. These days I wouldn't trust him to direct traffic. The Next Best Thing is a mess: it looks like an overlit student film and is shot and edited haphazardly. There's no sense of pacing; decent character actors show their faces and are given absolutely nothing to do; the music (by the usually dependable Gabriel Yared) is trite; Madonna looks like a sweating, leathery ghoul throughout. All in all a joyless, dreadful, and headache-inducing experience.