Jeffrey

1995 Directed by Christopher Ashley. Starring Steven Weber, Michael T. Weiss, Patrick Stewart, Bryan Batt, Sigourney Weaver, Olympia Dukakis, Kathy Najimy.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Sept. 15, 1995

If you've seen Paul Rudnick's play Jeffrey, then for all practical purposes you've seen the movie version of the same. What's eye-opening about the film is how thin Rudnick's work really is -- there's really not much there, when all is said and done. True, Jeffrey is without a doubt entertaining enough, particularly given its sobering subject matter: love in the age of AIDS. But there's a palpable, arm's-length distance in its story of a gay Everyguy who swears off sex and then meets Mr. Right, an HIV-positive man. Like its title character, the movie has a fear of commitment and, as a result, it doesn't grab you in quite the way that you expected it would. As Jeffrey, Weber is winning and likable -- he has a gift for facial expression -- but he can't overcome the obstacle that Rudnick has created, i.e., the characterization of Jeffrey as, well, a whiner. By the time he's chastised for his self-pitying selfishness, you'd like to give him a piece of your mind, too; after all, he is a healthy gay man amongst many sick ones. Perhaps if Rudnick had given Jeffrey more strength of character, his dilemma would evoke more sympathy and compassion. The film's highlight is Stewart's campy but grounded performance as Jeffrey's flamboyant and witty older friend, an interior designer who can carry off just about anything (including this movie). Less successful are Batt in the critical role of a Cats chorus boy who's not as empty-headed as one might think -- he hasn't much of a presence in the film -- and Weaver, Najimy, and Dukakis in comic cameo roles that are practically over before they start. Although Jeffrey has its faults, there's something to be said for an almost-mainstream movie with name actors that doesn't flinch in its depiction of a gay romance. After all, no matter what the sexual orientation, a kiss is still a kiss.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Jeffrey, Christopher Ashley, Steven Weber, Michael T. Weiss, Patrick Stewart, Bryan Batt, Sigourney Weaver, Olympia Dukakis, Kathy Najimy

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