Beautifully, I mean really beautifully, shot, the film follows young Logan (Malcolm Stumpf) around the empty streets and schoolyards of Santa Cruz as he tries to come to terms with all the ways he feels "different" from the other kids. His freaky daydreams, many of which involve spiders, are woven into what little narrative there is, and minutes go by without Logan saying a word. (In that sense, it may remind you of Van Sant's Elephant or Last Days.)
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Homogenized, sterilized and clearly revised by test-audience scoring, "The Next Best Thing" is a disingenuous, emotionally deficient comedy-drama about an earthy yoga teacher who has a baby with a gay friend after a night of booze-fueled accidental amour.
Starring mismatched Madonna and Rupert Everett as the atypical parents who decide to live as a family and raise their son together, there is a core of sincerity in the script that is lead to slaughter by the studio's desire to pat itself on the back for being edgy without losing ticket sales to the lowest common denominator crowd.
The story starts well enough, with our unusual couple commiserating over failed relationships by getting hammered on margaritas one evening, then waking up the next day in a compromising position. Next thing they know, Abbie (Madonna) is knocked up, Robert (Everett) embraces the responsible daddy role, and they move in together -- much to the amazement of friends and family.
Continue reading: The Next Best Thing Review