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Friday, March 3, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 108

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The new sweet thing

Everett and Madonna combine for terrific, humorous drama 


The Next Best Thing

Paramount Pictures
Rupert Everett, Madonna
MPAA: PG-13

A-


By Brandon H. Franks
Daily Cougar Staff

In The Next Best Thing, Abbie (Madonna) and Robert (Rupert Everett) are best friends who have almost everything in common. These two would make a great couple except for one little thing -- Robert is gay.

However, during one hot Fourth of July (mixed with a lot of alcohol) the two consummate a night of passion.


Ron Batzdorff/Lakeshore Entertainment and Paramount Pictures


Singer/actress Madonna (left) and My Best Friend's Wedding star Rupert Everett (right) star in the new humorous The Next Best Thing, in theaters today.

Robert, not happy with this, tells Abby off. The next time they see each other, she tells him she's pregnant and that she wants him to be the father of her child. He accepts.

The story moves from the birth of the child, Sam (Malcolm Stumpf), to six years later.

Everything seems fine; both Robert and Abbie are content with not being married and taking care of Sam until Abbie starts seeing Ben Cooper (Benjamin Bratt).

When Ben wants Abbie to marry him and move to New York, Robert realizes that nothing will ever be the same.

The Next Best Thing is a terrific film that is full of humor yet still holds its place as a great drama. Everett is great, not only as a straight-shooting gay man, but also as a caring and loving father.

Madonna's own personality is very evident in the character she develops, as Abbie is involved in yoga and other Far East things. Even with that in mind, Madonna does a great job and really shows an emotional performance, even though she somewhat randomly affects a British accent.

One surprise in the film is Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser M.D., Stark Raving Mad) who plays David. He has definitely matured into a fantastic actor. 

In the film, Harris' portrays one of Robert's gay friends and who has never been the same since his lover died. However, he is probably the most sane character in the group.

"My character acts as a sort of devil's advocate with Robert," Harris said in a recent interview, "asking him questions about his future happiness and fulfillment in this unusual living arrangement."


Ron Batzdorff/Lakeshore Entertainment and Paramount Pictures


Everett (left) and Madonna (right) create superb chemistry for the new humorous drama The Next Best Thing, released in theaters today.

It's actually nice to see a child actor getting real work and being taken seriously once he's older (ahem, Fred Savage).

The extravagant Los Feliz house, where the conception takes place, is just gorgeous. It's in this house that an attractive dress-up scene moves into a dance number, much like those of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

The way things are done in the film have to be noted. It's almost as if you're watching an old 40s film. When Abbie and Robert make love, the screen fades to black and goes directly to the next morning.

This is most refreshing in today's society where showing everything draws huge crowds. Then again, what part of Madonna have we not seen?

The Next Best Thing is a film that will leave you laughing and crying. The movie supports a great cast and deals with serious issues for any family, straight or gay.

It could be considered a Kramer vs. Kramer- vs. The Birdcage-type movie with serious, yet still sometimes funny, situations.
 

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