Metascore
25

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 31
  2. Negative: 21 out of 31
  1. 25
    A garage sale of gay issues, harnessed to a plot as exhausted as a junkman's horse.
  2. 50
    Essentially an old-fashioned weepie gussied up for Y2K.
  3. 40
    Cross an episode of "Friends" with an issue-of-the-week movie about gay parenthood and you have this glossy vanity project.
  4. The movie has a well-meaning message about love and loyalty being the bedrock of real family values, but its good intentions sag as the story trades its air of mischievous comedy for trite sentimentality, arbitrary plot twists, and enough maudlin melodramatics to sustain a tabloid TV series.
  5. The moment the movie loses its lighthearted spirit is the moment it loses touch with reality
  6. A misguided romantic serio-comedy aimed at women and gay men that ends up caricaturing both.
  7. Contrived story lines and an altogether phony resolution erase whatever energy and wit the film displayed, leaving the viewer with an empty, disappointed feeling.
  8. 50
    If only someone had taken away that disastrous third act we'd have one of the better mainstream films dealing with the impossible societal demands put upon gay parenting yet made. No such luck, though.
  9. 25
    A fluffy, feel-bad drama, with some serious things to say about the viability of homosexual men as fathers and role models.
  10. The whole thing becomes a very rickety and contrived tearjerker.
  11. Characters behave arbitrarily and incredibly, and a clumsy resolution brings the film to a thudding halt.
  12. 16
    A resolutely awful film, it makes you want to swear off sex, comedy, Rupert Everett movies, flowers, yoga, children, roast beef -- many of the best things in life, in fact.
  13. All too obvious, all too easy, the sort of tongue-in-chic L.A. comedy that mistakes glibness for high style, heartfelt pop choruses for wisdom.
  14. Has good intentions and the element of surprise -- it's never quite clear where it's going at any given point.
  15. Not even Rupert Everett is able to breathe life into soapy Thing.
  16. 10
    Takes so many wrong turns it's barely an also-ran. It isn't the next best thing at all. Not even close.
  17. Really two movies in one, and there's not enough breathing room for both of them.
  18. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    38
    Never having decided whether it wants to be comedy or a sentimental hand-wringer, it tries to be both and winds up being neither.
  19. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    30
    Likely lack of much critical enthusiasm or positive word-of-mouth will induce quick theatrical falloff, with better news likely down the line for rental merchants.
  20. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    20
    Screenwriter Ropelewski piles one silly plot contrivance upon another, and the characters start behaving like nitwits.
  21. If the movie were funny, the implicit sermonizing would be more tolerable, but apart from four or five good one-liners, The Next Best Thing is a thudding failure as a comedy.
  22. That's a few too many agendas for one film.
  23. 50
    Funny how Madonna borrows Everett, Julia Roberts' gay pal from "My Best Friend's Wedding," and Bratt, Roberts' real-life beau, to be her co-stars. If only she could borrow her talent.
  24. 10
    A vanity project -- hell-bent on playing barely human characters as themselves, they've created something quitebewilderingly ugly in the process.
  25. 20
    No one ever turns into a real character, and none of the scenes have either dramatic or comedic resonance.
  26. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    10
    A dismal film, a flop as both 21st-century romantic comedy and gay "Kramer vs. Kramer."
  27. 38
    Of Madonna's considerable talents, making the camera love her isn't one: The screen seems to go dead every time she's on it.
  28. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    20
    Doesn't even rise to the level of camp, of being so-bad-it's-good. It's just flat out bad.
  29. 10
    Nobody involved will want to make this banal "comedy" a highlight of their résumé, not if they have any sense.
  30. 69
    The two leads have a wonderful chemistry together.
  31. Reviewed by: Steve Daly
    42
    (Madonna is) clearly full of good intentions; too bad she's lacking discernible emotions.
User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Jan 13, 2014
    10
    A light-hearted, witty film that plays with tricky themes of friendship and fatherhood. Realistic and clever acting gives life to issues that have since become central to today's world. Fortunately, institutions have eased off homosexuals of late, this film justifies those changes. Full Review »