How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Plague

ATN's Roy Zemlicka reports: So I went and saw Jeffrey, at an AIDS

benefit showing of the movie nonetheless. I liked it. But guess what, it's a

gay film; unrepentantly

so. We're talking capital-Q, small-u, double-e, little-r; as in it starts

with two men in bed together gasp. Okay, so maybe you already knew

that Jeffrey was about gay men, but did you know that it also

desperately wants to be a mainstream movie. Mainstream in the sense that

I could say, "Patrick Stewart was delightfully over-the-top in his

portrayal of a gay interior decorator," except for the fact that even the

thought of the word "delightfully" sends me hiding in bed with the covers

pulled over my head worrying that someday I'm going to own French

poodles that I force to wear designer sweaters.

In the movie, good-looking Jeffrey (Steven Weber) decides to give up sex in

the age of AIDS and of course is instantly hit upon by gorgeous Steve

(Michael T. Weiss). In a quandary Jeffrey talks to his attractive friends

while they shop and eat at up-scale restaurants. Life is hard. There is also

some stuff about post-modern televangelists, Mother Theresa, compulsive

sex disorder, oh yeah ,and gay bashing. But that is all superfluous to the

dating, right?

Thankfully the movie did not try to hide its theatrical roots, and

Jeffrey left the audience with the sense of having watched a play.

There is something about an audience coming together when watching a

movie that can elevate it from simple entertainment to an experience. I

remember opening night of Thelma & Louisewhere it felt like the

entire theatre was holding its breath for two hours.

My one complaint is that if Jeffrey is a mainstream movie, it should

have a little mainstream production quality. In general the production was

excellent except for one scene; Darius' (Bryan Batt) big dramatic scene;

where the boom mike was horribly apparent. I mean really, movie studios

can spend millions of dollars to give Tom Hanks a bad haircut and let him

shake hands with dead Presidents but can't spread a little computer

wealth and edit out a microphone. It isn't the production quality that

makes Jeffrey worthwhile, it is the comedy and the content.

However, I am a little worried about how well-received Jeffrey

will be. The queer community at the benefit seemed more than willing to

accept it, but I wonder about straight-laced middle-Americana. I hope it

does, because Jeffrey was definitely worth the price of admission.

Seeing big name stars having a blast playing outrageous characters was

worth the price itself, but luckily that wasn't all that Jeffrey had

to offer.

Steven Weber does much to overcome his Wings past and plays

Jeffrey as wonderfully neurotic. His Jeffrey is not truly insensitive, but

rather frightened of life, of living, of the fact that there is no longer


for the future. It is easy to sympathize with his fears. Of course one does

wonder what it would have been like to have an openly gay character play

the lead role. It worked in Priscilla; wait, they were all straight.

Philadelphia. Straight. Hmmmmm...

Jeffrey is a fun, light-hearted comedy about AIDS. It has its serious

moments but never lets them fully get in the way of the comedy. Take it

for what it's worth.