The Next Best Thing (2000)

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Released 29-Nov-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 103:23
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Schlesinger
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Rupert Everett
Madonna
Benjamin Bratt
Michael Vartan
Josef Sommer
Lynn Redgrave
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Gabriel Yared


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Abbie (Madonna) and Robert (Rupert Everett) are best friends and probably would have been a couple a long time ago, if it weren't for the fact that Robert is gay.

    The Next Best Thing starts out with Abbi being dumped by her long-time boyfriend and then moves on to the funeral of a friend. Not wanting to be alone, Robert asks Abbie to house-sit with him. They lounge around the pool sipping cool something-or-other alcoholic drinks, day turns into evening, and in their drunken hazes they end up sleeping together - you know, doing the wild thing, bumping uglies or as our high school Personal Development teachers would say, having sexual intercourse. A month or so passes and Abbie finds out that she is pregnant. Abbie decides to keep the baby and offers Robert the choice of either being the baby's father or uncle. After a bit of mulling over and encouragement from Robert's mother, Robert decides to be the baby's father and moves in with Abbie, much to the surprise of all of their friends. For the next six years things go smoothly, and Sam (their son) is brought up in a loving environment, but when Abbie falls in love with Ben (Benjamin Bratt) and starts talking about moving to another city with Ben and Sam, things turn nasty and the inevitable custody battle ensues.

    Whether you love or hate Madonna, this movie proves that she can act. I was effortlessly transported into the story by the actors and managed to forget that I was watching the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll for the entire duration of the movie. The Next Best Thing is far from being the most earth-shattering movie ever made, but I found it enjoyable and entertaining.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture sharpness and detail was great, with plenty of fine detail in the shadows. No low-level noise, edge enhancement or edge bleeding was noticed. There are a couple of deliberately soft-focussed scenes, but none are detrimental to the picture quality.

    The colour for the indoor scenes is perfect, but I felt that almost all of the outdoor scenes were just a tad over-bright, which made the picture look a little flat and washed-out.

    There is some trivial grain present in many of the low-light indoor scenes, but only the fussiest of viewers will even notice its presence, as it never becomes much more than just barely perceptible.

    Only one minor MPEG artefact was noticed right at the end of the film - there was some posterization at 98:40 on the fade-to-black before the credits started to roll. No aliasing was noticed, not even during the courtroom scene (which has the dreaded venetian blinds), although it did come close on a couple of occasions.

    Only a handful of tiny and obscure film artefacts were noticed for the entire film. The most noticeable of these was at 19:38 - 19:45, where there is a black mark that moves with camera movement, probably caused by something on the lens of the camera.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this DVD, which is an English 384Kb/s Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, but its strong and un-moving placement in the centre of the front soundstage was a little disappointing.

    At 6:00, the dialogue appeared to be on the verge of being out of sync, but I do not believe this was a transfer-induced fault. This sync slip is barely perceptible and I had to watch this short scene twice just to be sure I wasn't imagining it.

    The musical score is by Gabriel Yared and it seemed to suit the movie quite nicely.

    Surround channel use - what surround channel use? OK, there are a couple of scenes that actually contain some audible surround activity, but these are few and far between. The surround channels didn't even appear to be used much for musical ambience. Since this is a largely dialogue-driven movie, I must say that I didn't miss the surround channels too much. The highlight of the film's surround use was a short split rear sound effect at 46:56.

    There is no .1 LFE soundtrack on this DVD, but if you have your sound system set up to pass all frequencies below 80Hz to the subwoofer, it will get some light use with the music. This is not the type of movie that requires a sub.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Extras? What are they? There is not a single one on this DVD.

Menu

    The menus are 16x9 enhanced, with the main menu having the following selections; Scene Selections (20), Setup and Play.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     If you want extras then the R1 disc is the clear winner here. I must say that for once the lack of extras on the R4 version really annoyed me.

Summary

    I quite enjoyed The Next Best Thing at the cinema. It does lose a little of its punch on the second viewing, but not too much so. The audio loses marks because the dialogue is heavily centered and has very little surround channel use, which makes the soundstage very front-heavy, but this can forgiven because of the type of movie this is.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Wednesday, January 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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