The Next Best Thing


Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 31
  2. Negative: 21 out of 31

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Critic Reviews

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Never having decided whether it wants to be comedy or a sentimental hand-wringer, it tries to be both and winds up being neither.
  4. Characters behave arbitrarily and incredibly, and a clumsy resolution brings the film to a thudding halt.
  5. The whole thing becomes a very rickety and contrived tearjerker.
  6. 25
    A garage sale of gay issues, harnessed to a plot as exhausted as a junkman's horse.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 10
    Nobody involved will want to make this banal "comedy" a highlight of their résumé, not if they have any sense.
  10. (Madonna is) clearly full of good intentions; too bad she's lacking discernible emotions.
  11. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    Doesn't even rise to the level of camp, of being so-bad-it's-good. It's just flat out bad.
  12. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    A dismal film, a flop as both 21st-century romantic comedy and gay "Kramer vs. Kramer."
  13. 20
    No one ever turns into a real character, and none of the scenes have either dramatic or comedic resonance.
  14. A misguided romantic serio-comedy aimed at women and gay men that ends up caricaturing both.
  15. 25
    A fluffy, feel-bad drama, with some serious things to say about the viability of homosexual men as fathers and role models.
  16. 69
    The two leads have a wonderful chemistry together.
  17. Not even Rupert Everett is able to breathe life into soapy Thing.
  18. 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.
  19. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Screenwriter Ropelewski piles one silly plot contrivance upon another, and the characters start behaving like nitwits.
  20. Contrived story lines and an altogether phony resolution erase whatever energy and wit the film displayed, leaving the viewer with an empty, disappointed feeling.
  21. 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.
  22. Rolling Stone
    Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Essentially an old-fashioned weepie gussied up for Y2K.
  23. 10
    Takes so many wrong turns it's barely an also-ran. It isn't the next best thing at all. Not even close.
  24. That's a few too many agendas for one film.
  25. Has good intentions and the element of surprise -- it's never quite clear where it's going at any given point.
  26. The moment the movie loses its lighthearted spirit is the moment it loses touch with reality
  27. Cross an episode of "Friends" with an issue-of-the-week movie about gay parenthood and you have this glossy vanity project.
  28. 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.
  29. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    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.
  30. 10
    A vanity project -- hell-bent on playing barely human characters as themselves, they've created something quitebewilderingly ugly in the process.
  31. Really two movies in one, and there's not enough breathing room for both of them.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 20 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
    A light-hearted, witty film that plays with tricky themes of friendship and fatherhood. Realistic and clever acting gives life to issues thatA 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 »