Next Best Thing, The
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -2 1/2

This comedy-drama gives new meaning to the term mixed marriages. Yoga instructor Abbie (Madonna) spends a weekend with her homosexual best friend, Robert (Rupert Everett), a gardener house-sitting for his wealthy employers. A few too many drinks leads to sex, and when Abbie discovers shes pregnant, Robert agrees to live with her and be a dad to his child. Everything goes beautifully for five years as both Robert and Abbie delight in bringing up their son, Sammy (Malcolm Stumpf), together. But this heavenly match begins to disintegrate once Robert reverts to dating men and Abbie falls in love with Ben Cooper (Benjamin Bratt), a handsome business executive. Sammy is now old enough to ask questions about his parents relationship, especially when both become involved with others. Homosexuals will appreciate the films predominantly gay humor and the stars will attract their fans, so a better than average box office showing is expected.

The attempts of a good-hearted, but misguided couple to fool Mother Nature prove THE NEXT BEST THING isnt good enough. For conservative viewers, its inconceivable that loving parents would expose their child to a lifestyle that creates sexual confusion. Sex between a drunken Abbie and Robert is implied and later, Sammy discovers his mother in bed with Ben even though Robert is still in the house. And when Ben and Abbie begin talking marriage, they suggest the three grownups share Sammy under the same roof. To his credit, Robert realizes that would be impossible. Although professing love for him, three adults subject a child to immeasurable suffering in a bitter court battle. If the films goal is promoting homosexuals as strong parent role models, it fails miserably. Robert and Abbies gay friends are portrayed as heavy drinkers, into drugs and one suffers with AIDS. Along with Robert and his male lover shown in a bedroom scene, many gay jokes, crude terms for homosexuals and men embracing several times are shown. Viewers should also prepare for a graphic photo of female genitals. Foul language includes 20 obscenities and four regular profanities, but jokes about religion, Jerry Falwell and a funeral referred to as gothic hocus pocus insult conservative Christians. Hollywoods brazen promotion of immoral lifestyles saturates this film; so dont settle for THE NEXT BEST THING.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: Paramount Pictures, 5555 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038

Summary
Crude Language: Many (19) times Mild 5, Moderate 14
Obscene Language: Several (9) times - F-word 1, s-word 5, other 3
Profanity: Many (11) times Regular 4 (C 2, G 1, G-sake 1), Exclamatory 7
Violence: Once Moderate (drunk couple trash house)
Sexual Intercourse: Implied twice (gay man with woman, unmarried couple in bed)
Nudity: Once (graphic photo of female genitals); Near Nudity - Several times (low-neck dresses, woman in underwear, men in tight briefs)
Homosexual Conduct: Many times (gay couples embracing, in bed; gay humor, homosexual lifestyle promoted; gay man raises child with heterosexual woman)
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Comical references to sex and sex acts, passionate embraces
Drug Abuse: Many times (heavy social drinking, drunk couple, smoking, reference to drug use)
Other: Slurs against religion - especially conservative Christians
Running Time: 110 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens, adults and supports of homosexual lifestyle

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