The Next Best Thing

Ladymol's Review

I wasn't expecting this film to be as good as it is. Sure, Madonna is not the world's greatest actor, and in her way, her stardom detracts from any role she is likely to play, but she *looks* absolutely right for this part.

Rupert Everett, however, is just wonderful as the gay best friend who has a one-night drunken fling and ends up being a father to their child. It’s starts out on just that kind of light-hearted level and you go along with the ride until it all becomes a lot more serious. The inevitable happens… after six years, the Madonna character wants to marry, and the gay father is suddenly in the way of the new, perfect life.

Funnily enough, I didn’t spot the hint that this was going to get more serious and look at the issue of gay rights. Early on in the film we have the funeral of a man who has died of AIDS and his boyfriend crashes the funeral to pay his last respects. His wishes have been totally ignored, and having no rights, he’s soon kicked out of the house he shared with his now, dead, lover.  The funeral scene is just beautiful, wonderfully shot and very moving whilst at the same time keeping the light sense of the fun of the whole movie. I defy you not to cry at the end of that scene….

The film looks totally beautiful, shot in California in late summer and early fall. The colours are so rich, and evocative. The sets are gorgeous.  Starting out light a humorous, this film actually tackles some very pertinent issues about parenthood and the rights of gay men. Okay, it’s not rocket-science, and it doesn’t make a huge contribution to the debate, but I don’t think it’s meant to. It makes you care what happens to these people – all of them, whatever side of the terrible tug-of-love they are on.

The gay theme is strong throughout, because that’s the point of the movie: the father is a gay man. But there is very little gay content – one very pretty scene of Rupert Everett in bed with his lover, no actual physical contact.

As an afterthought, the film co-stars totally stunning Benjamin Bratt. Pity he was playing the straight guy who falls Madonna. What a waste.

I enjoyed every minute of this film, and recommend it as a gay-theme movie or just mainstream great entertainment.

Cerisaye's Review

A beautiful LA yoga teacher sleeps with her gay best friend in a drunken moment of weakness…kismet…whatever, and ends up (of course) pregnant.  So they decide to play happy families for the sake of their child.  Which works swimmingly until Mummy falls for a straight guy, leaving one very unhappy Daddy who wants to keep his role in his child’s life, the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

The film looks good, and Madonna is surprisingly convincing in a part that surely was written with her in mind. It tackles serious issues concerning the rights of gay men to enjoy the same paternal rights as their straight fellows, but the syrupy gloss spoiled it for me.

Rupert Everett is brilliant, of course, as the gay best friend every woman wants, and the film is worth watching for him alone. The relationship between Robert (Everett) and his son, Sam, works well, but the rest of the movie had an air of unreality that made it difficult to connect with the characters and their easy lifestyle. I just couldn't believe the arrangement could go for 6 years before the cracks began to show.

However, if you want a nice film with great eye candy and something worthwhile to say about the hot topic of gay parenting, then you could do a lot worse than give this one a spin.