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"THE NEXT BEST THING"
(2000) (Madonna, Rupert Everett) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Minor Moderate None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Moderate Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Romantic Comedy: After having a child together, an unmarried gay man and his best friend, a straight woman, create an unconventional family that's threatened when the woman eventually falls for another man.
PLOT:
Robert (RUPERT EVERETT), a Los Angeles gardener, and Abbie (MADONNA), a yoga instructor, have been best friends for years and would seem to make a perfect couple. The only problem is, he's gay and Abbie's sworn off men after her latest boyfriend, Kevin (MICHAEL VARTAN), leaves her.

When a mutual friend of theirs dies, the two spend more time together, and after a few too many drinks, they end up sleeping together. The next day, neither can believe what they did and their friendship becomes strained. That is, until Abbie realizes she's pregnant and asks Robert to be the baby's father. He agrees, but only under the condition that he not become her husband and that the two, while living together as an unconventional family, will be free to date whomever they choose.

While his father, Richard (JOSEF SOMMER), and gay friend David (NEIL PATRICK HARRIS), think it's a bad idea, his mother, Helen (LYNN REDGRAVE), encourages him to embrace fatherhood. The arrangement seems to work well, but several years after the birth of their son, Sam (MALCOLM STUMPF), the two feel the strain of seeing the other dating someone else.

That issue comes to a head when Abbie meets Ben (BENJAMIN BRATT), an investment banker, and the two become quite serious. As their relationship intensifies, the three try to deal with their unique family structure and figure out what's best for Sam.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Madonna will probably be a draw for many teens, while the appearance of being a romantic comedy will probably be alluring to others as well.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For mature thematic elements, sexual content, partial nudity and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • RUPERT EVERETT plays a gay man who ends up sleeping with his best friend, a straight woman. After she becomes pregnant, he decides to be the child's father and then fights for his right to continue to be just that when the couple's unconventional relationship is jeopardized. Along the way, he briefly uses strong profanity, drinks and
  • smokes. MADONNA plays his best friend, a woman who's sworn off men but ends up sleeping with Robert after a few too many drinks. She becomes a good mother to Sam and later falls for Ben, but does sleep with him under the same roof as Robert and Sam. She also briefly uses some profanity.
  • BENJAMIN BRATT plays an investment banker who falls for Abbie (and sleeps with her) and wants the best for her and Sam.
  • MALCOLM STUMPF plays the couple's young son who begins to question his parents' odd lifestyle and living arrangement.
  • NEIL PATRICK HARRIS plays Robert's gay friend who appears to be suffering from AIDS late in the film and is never in favor of Robert and Abbie's family arrangement.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 rated romantic comedy that turns into a dour family drama. Profanity is rated as heavy due to 1 use of the "f" word, while other profanities and some colorful phrases are also used.

    One of the two protagonists is gay, as are some supporting characters, and some sexually related comments are made about that lifestyle, as well as about an off-screen sexual liaison between the two main characters (a gay man and a straight woman). Other heterosexual and homosexual encounters are implied (we see the participants in bed but no activity) while some brief nonsexual nudity is seen.

    The encounter between the two main characters leads to her pregnancy, their unconventional family life of raising their son as friends (and not lovers or husband & wife), and finally to fighting over custody rights once things go sour. Some drinking and smoking are present, while AIDS related topics are briefly touched upon.

    Should any part of the film and/or the question of its appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home still be an issue after that summary, we suggest that you take a closer look at the more detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Some older wealthy people have drinks.
  • Robert has a beer.
  • Robert and Abbie have many drinks throughout an afternoon, evening and night, including margaritas and martinis.
  • Robert and another man join David at his former lover's gravesite to drink and pour some liquor onto the grave.
  • Robert's parents come out of a plane talking about a gin and tonic.
  • Robert tells David that he's bored with the parties and drugs associated with his previous gay lifestyle (we never see any use).
  • People have wine at a party.
  • People have drinks at a party.
  • People have drinks in a restaurant, including Ben and Abbie who have wine. When she later comes home and stumbles a bit, Robert asks if she's tipsy.
  • A lawyer points out Robert's former boyfriend serving time in prison for drug possession.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Robert makes up a story for his son about a person finding a large "booger" in their nose, pulling it out, and after noting that it's big enough for dinner, cutting it up and frying it as such.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers may take offense to the thought of a gay man and a straight woman having and raising a child without being married.
  • Some characters refer to gays as "faggots" or "queers."
  • As a joke (and while acting like a flamboyant gay man), Robert refers to Kevin's black associates as "chocolate covered peanuts."
  • Abbie goes through the belongings and tries on some clothes in a stranger's home that Robert is watching. Later, she and Robert, who are both drunk, accidentally knock over and break various items in that home.
  • Robert is somewhat disrespectful toward Ben (in a near jealous fashion) upon first meeting him.
  • As their custody fight for their son escalates, Robert and Abbie have more of both attitudes toward one another.
  • We learn that Abbie hasn't told Robert the entire truth about her pregnancy.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Faggot," "Queer," "Loser," "Bitch" (referring to a gay man's lover), "Punk," "Slut," "Get the hell out of here," "Shut up," "Stupid jerk," "Screw" (nonsexual), "Nuts" (crazy) and "Jeez."
  • Robert grabs his clothed crotch while acting like a flamboyant gay man to embarrass Kevin.
  • Abbie goes through the belongings and tries on some clothes in a stranger's home that Robert is watching. Later, she and Robert copy an old Fred Astaire move and walk up onto a sofa, causing it to tip over backwards to the floor.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 4 "s" words, 3 slang terms for sex ("shag," "nail" and "bang"), 3 asses (2 used with "hole"), 3 damns, 2 hells, 1 S.O.B., 6 uses of "Oh my God," 3 each of "God" and "My God," and 1 use each of "Christ," "For God's sakes," "Oh God" and "Oh Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • After Kevin asks if he came over too early (to get his stuff to leave), Abbie tells him that his problem is that, "you always come before I'm ready."
  • We see Abbie putting on a dress as she looks in a mirror. As such, we briefly see the tops of her bare breasts, as well as a brief glimpse of most of her bare butt in her thong bottom. She and Kevin then briefly, but passionately kiss, and he then stops them. Although he then says that, among other things, she's a "great lay," he desires a woman who, "when we do it," doesn't instruct him like an air traffic controller.
  • Robert tells Abbie that she doesn't need a husband to get married, that all she needs to do is find some sperm and then "bottoms up."
  • Robert grabs his clothed crotch while acting like a flamboyant gay man (to embarrass Kevin) and then comments on knee pads being a "girl's best friends," and then pulls out stuff Kevin supposedly left at his house, including a packet of condoms.
  • A double entendre joke is made about Robert being "down on his hands and knees."
  • Abbie shows cleavage in her bikini.
  • After many hours of drinking, Abbie and Robert begin kissing. The picture then fades to black and the next morning they wake up in bed together, realizing that they've had sex (we see him in his underwear). As they fight about what they did, Abbie tells him that last night he didn't say no, but instead said "now."
  • Robert tells David and another gay friend that he and Abbie slept together. David then asks if it was sleeping together like cuddling or whether he "shagged" her. They want to know if they're going to do it again while using the slang terms "nail" and "bang" to describe that act.
  • A month or so later, Abbie discovers that she's pregnant. When she tells Robert, he can't believe it, stating that they only "did it" once. She replies that it's all that it takes.
  • An innuendo-laced question is asked about Robert and Abbie's encounter, "Did he rise to the occasion?" The reply is "Obviously he did."
  • Robert agrees to be the father to Abbie's child as long as he doesn't have to sleep with her, while David later asks him if he's thought about the details of his sex life and whether he's going to have one in such an arrangement.
  • From a distance, we briefly see what looks like a shot of a woman's crotch in a childbirth-related book.
  • Years after their son is born, Abbie tells Robert that she doesn't want to have sex (with anyone), that she's over it.
  • While looking in the mirror and noting the effects age has had on her body, Abbie lifts up her clothed breasts while saying, "1989" and then lets them hang down again, now stating, "1999."
  • We see Robert in the same bed with his male cardiologist, but don't see any activity between them (although it's obviously suggested that they were possibly fooling around).
  • Abbie drops a line of innuendo when she tells Robert that Ben has "big hands."
  • We see Abbie in her bra as she gets dressed, and the dress she later wears shows cleavage.
  • A comment is made about Abbie being "turkey basted" (inseminated) by her best friend.
  • Sam sees that Ben (in his underwear) has spent the night with his mother (but doesn't see any activity).
  • A lawyer asks Robert about a gay club he used to frequent called "Sit and Spin." He then asks whether Sam has seen him "have oral sex with another man."
  • SMOKING
  • Robert smokes around four times, while some miscellaneous smoking also occurs.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We see some family members at a funeral.
  • Robert and his father don't get along that well at first (about him being gay and then having a child), but they later make amends.
  • Although they are not a "traditional" family, the family unit consisting of Robert, Abbie and Sam is put under pressure and eventually splinters with both parents fighting for custody of the boy (who sees his parents fighting, asks if Ben is his daddy now, worries about his father when they're separated, as well as whether he knows that he loves him).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Being gay in today's society.
  • What constitutes fatherhood (biology, physical presence and nurturing, etc.), and whether Robert should have any legal rights to be Sam's father considering everything that develops.
  • Whether Robert and Abbie made the right choice about the situation in which they found themselves.
  • AIDS - David seems to have it and his boyfriend died from it.
  • VIOLENCE
  • While drunk, Robert and Abbie manage to knock over and break lamps, vases and other things in a home Robert is watching.
  • Abbie smacks Robert.



  • Reviewed February 28, 2000 / Posted March 3, 2000

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