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March 10 - 17, 2000

[Movie Reviews]

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The Next Best Thing

by Alicia Potter

Save for the scene in which Madonna's yoga-instructor character contorts into a human Rold Gold, the singer/actress doesn't do much stretching in this family-values fiasco by John (Midnight Cowboy) Schlesinger. She's Abbey, a whiny, self-absorbed single gal who boasts a closetful of biceps-baring Hindu fashions, a pretty good singing voice, and an inexplicable popularity among homosexual men. One martini-drenched afternoon, she shags her gay best friend (the indomitably classy Rupert Everett) and gets pregnant. Convention be damned, they vow to raise the dopy tyke (Malcolm Stumpf) together -- until, that is, Abbey gets her kundalini flowing with a sexy out-of-towner (Benjamin Bratt).

Mawkish, clumsy, and howlingly funny, this film works solely as a camp trifle. Madonna's far too brittle to exude any maternal warmth, and the plot pitches and heaves into one hummer of a melodrama. There are goofy montages and leaden deliveries; there's much whooping by Lynn Redgrave. And the best part? When Madonna thuds a line that's a ringer for a lyric in "Papa, Don't Preach."

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