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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Even angry people will eventually make good decisions about child care and custody if they truly care about the child's welfare. A man makes a mock racist comment, referring to a "chocolate-covered peanut gallery."
Positive Role Models
Gay stereotyping is turned on its head when Robert dresses up as a midriff-baring effeminate person to make people think that the hetero male who dumped Abby is gay. This both sends up heterosexual fear of homosexuality at the same time it exploits it. Abby and Robert's friendship is deep and mostly unselfish, although they both display jealousy. Robert's mother accepts him as he is, and his father, at first disapproving, comes around to supporting him. Robert and Abby are loving parents, but when threatened both make bad decisions, attack each other in court, and otherwise foul their friendship with respect to child custody, until they sort things out.
Violence & Scariness
A woman takes her 6-year-old son away from the man who has acted as his father since birth.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Robert and Abby get drunk and have sex (only kissing is shown). Adults kiss. Gay sex is discussed. Tops of a woman's breasts and her thonged buttocks are seen. A women is seen in a sheer bra. A man is shirtless.
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"S--t," "hell," "a--hole," "faggot," "bimbo," "sperm," "screw," "bitch," "punk," "queens" (referring to effeminate gay men), "booger."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink alcohol, sometimes to excess. Both Abby and Robert drink too many martinis, leading them to have sex for the first and only time. The diet drug fen-phen is mentioned. During childbirth pain, a woman screams, "Give me every drug you've got!" A reference is made to a man serving time for drug possession.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Next Best Thing is a 2000 drama that asks how we as a society define "family" in an age when the once completely shunned LGBTQ community is gaining rights and acceptance. A straight woman in her 40s wants a child. Dumped by a cad and grieving for a friend lost to AIDS, she and her gay best friend have drunken sex (not shown). He commits to being a full-time father when she gives birth to a son, and all is well until she falls in love six years later, at which time lawyers get involved. Adults smoke and drink. AIDS and gay sex are discussed. Expect to hear "a--hole," "hell," "faggot," "s--t," and "bitch." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This watchable, intelligently constructed film wrestles with modern issues. Those include tolerance, prejudice, feminism, nontraditional families, love, and the failure of the legal system to catch up with the conflicts these matter raise. The movie doesn't say so, but it should be noted that, under the movie's specific plot constraints, Robert would have been at a disadvantage legally even if the character had been straight. Everett's performance is absorbing and beautifully nuanced. The writing realistically reflects the pain of being a single woman of a certain age and of being gay in a largely intolerant culture. Their woes are not equivalent, but the movie makes the point that society, the legal system, and prevailing religions prefer their adults straight and coupled, making it tough for those who fall outside the norm. Although the movie may not interest many teens, those who do watch will find lots to analyze and discuss.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.