Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Movie Review: The Next Best Thing

I had a blast from the past on the weekend when I rewatched this movie from 2000. I remember it being a sweet, touching story - which just goes to show that either my memory is failing or I've changed a lot in thirteen years.

Madonna's character is such a bitch through the second part of the movie that I'd have slapped her if I could.
After spending the first part of the movie convincng us (a tad unbelievably) how much she wants a child, and what a great mom she is, this entire characterisation goes out the window when she meets a man. She becomes completely selfish, severing all ties between her son and the only father he's ever known.

Why? Because Rupert Everett as the Dad is an abusive waste of space? No, simply because he doesn't want his son to move across the country and never see him again.
Huh? Does she not know how many single women struggle to find a positive father figure for their sons in this day and age?

But it gets worse. The custody battle between the two made my blood boil. The devoted dad is told by his lawyer that he doesn't stand a chance of getting any sort of custody because ... wait for this ... he's gay.

This wasn't the 1980s. This was the start of the new millenium. Were US laws seriously that discriminatory such a short time ago?

The final scene is played out on a hilltop. Rupert Everett walks up the hill to his parked car. Why had he parked his car in this arb spot? Why was he walking to get to it? We'll never know.
Though no doubt the director thought the view would make a sweeping backdrop to the movie's climax. It does, but it's also so random that it completely took me out the scene when I should have been crying great big crocodile tears.

And what was with the shadows over everyone's foreheads throughout the movie? Boom shadow - or someone's idea of art?

The Amazon editorial review describes this movie as "lazily directed" and I completely agree. There was some great material here - great actors (Lynn Redgrave among them) and a wonderful opportunity to examine the modern family dynamic - but it never reaches its potential. The only highlight of this seriously anti-climactic movie was Neil Patrick Harris in a supporting role.

The best thing to come out of The Next Best Thing is that I'd love to rewrite this story in my own way. Maybe I will...

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