The Next Best Thing

Bomb Rating: 

I want to write about just where this film crossed over into dynamite territory, because it was a solid four-bomber for quite a while, and I don't want anybody to accuse me of not being fair. It was right at the end, as I was praying to Buddha that a film that seemed longer than the Reagan presidency would finally end. Abbie (Madonna) and Robert (Rupert Everett) were finally reconciling after their court battle for custody of their son, Sam (Malcolm Stumpf), and I was just doing everything I could psychically to make director John Schlesinger stop.

When the screen faded to black I could not have been more thrilled -- at least until the credits rolled, when the only thing worse than outtakes happened. That's right, little prose explanations of the characters exploits after the movie ended. I mean, Jesus Christ, why didn't Schlesinger just put a gun in his mouth? If you've ended your movie and have to resort to explaining in text what happened after you ran out of film you need to get a job as a subtitle technician or something. The film has ended, you steaming lump of cat crap.

Madonna, whose screen presence would give Ed Wood tics and who has the personality of a plastic cup, gives birth to Rupert Everett's baby. The small complication here is that Everett's character is gay. This film is tedious like a root canal. And isn't gay life fun? One minute you're banging Madonna and the next minute you're having lovely gay conversations with Neil Patrick Harris. Neil Patrick Harris? Holy Jesus, I can barely stomach that Doogie is a serious actor, and I'm supposed to swallow him as a gay man (no pun intended)? Why not just stick a propeller up his ass and have him fly around the neighborhood belting out show tunes?

We're talking about two hours of Madonna enunciating her lines as though she were taking a dialect course -- in English! Is this not her native language? This woman cannot act. This is even more embarrassing because she's playing herself. Abbie is a yoga teacher and a vegetarian and whatever else Madonna is, and if I want to watch Madonna do yoga, I'll rent the workout video. And another thing, while I'm going here, the stupidest thing you could possibly do in a movie starring Madonna is to also have songs by Madonna, because every person in the audience hears the song and realizes they're watching a singer, not an actress. If John Schlesinger would like to call me up and convince me that was intentional, I'll switch the rating back to four bombs.

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