Sorry for the obvious Star Trek reference, but it's only to pay homage to the true star of this recently-released video, Patrick Stewart. I know there's supposed to be this whole love story going on between Jeffrey (Steven Weber) and Steve (Michael T. Weiss), but to be honest, all the best lines and scenes go to the characters of Sterling and Darius (Stewart and Bryan Batt), and a lot of others playing darling cameos.
The story opens with a typical Manhattan-movie style voice-over from Jeffrey, "I love sex." Which becomes evident as we see a few failed encounters of his that lead him to his decision to become celibate as the fears of AIDS have made sex too much of a hassle. That's it, no more sex, end of story!
Enter, Steve, the gay ideal of beauty complete in tank top and workout shorts.
Steve comes on very strong, and eventually with the help of Darius and Sterling, Jeffrey agrees to go out with him. Just one problem, Steve is HIV positive. "No problem," says Jeffrey who ends up breaking their date on Steve's machine. For those of you who've had this happen, I feel for you. And for those who have done it, you'll suffer in your own personal hell. Eventually Steve confronts Jeffrey and Jeffrey just admits that he freaked out and is scared of falling in love with someone who is dying.
Jeffrey tries all kinds of things to get over his own fears, he joins a sexual compulsive help group, goes to the church, even tries getting advice from a new age evangelist. Sigourney Weaver is wonderful as a cross between a preacher and a daytime TV talk show host, and Nathan Lane's Catholic priest Father Dan, with a huge penchant for musicals and show tunes is hilarious. Eventually Jeffrey gets in touch with himself, and his sexuality, and overcomes his fears. A very good exchange is between Jeffrey and Father Dan where Jeffrey demands the meaning of good and evil. Though tempted to relate them to "My Fair Lady" and "Phantom" respectively, Dan makes an analogy to a balloon that is beautiful, simple, complex, and still makes a whole lot of sense.
It's a funny and witty progression of boy meets boy, boy likes boy, boy turns boy away, boy realizes he loves boy, boy crawls back to boy, and boy GETS boy. With a few cameos by Mother Theresa along the way.
But back to Sterling and Darius, who truly make the movie, but I suppose calling it "Sterling" or "Darius" wouldn't have sold as well. Sterling is a decorator (err, umm, interior designer, sorry) living well in a townhouse with his dancer boyfriend Darius (who is also HIV positive). Now you may have your own thoughts about Mr. Stewart's sexuality, regardless of whether he is or he ain't, he shines on the screen. There should be a book of his quotes, Sterling on scarves: "I look like some sort of gay superhero," on trends: "The earring? Love it. Last year." and on dancers: "Their toes are all smashed. I'd say, Sorry Misha, not without socks." Though that doesn't stop him from seeing Darius who he admits has perfect feet. Bryan Batt also played Darius in the stage version of "Jeffrey" and is wonderful as a dizzy chorus boy. He doesn't 'get' the plot to "Les Mis," and he's never heard of Ann Miller (to which Sterling says in horror "Leave this house!"). Yet in his own words "Dumb? I'm an eighth-grade dropout who lives in a townhouse, doesn't pay rent, goes to screenings and takes cabs.'' The only thing missing was the snap.
Not to discount the performances of Weber and Weiss, they kept the energy on screen moving, just not at a very high level. And while being extremely funny the movie's style of presenting itself in chapters or vignettes kept the comedy a bit disjointed. Still, "Jeffrey" is a very good movie, kept alive by it's spontaneous humor, it's current albeit extremely white and upscale view of gay culture, and it's surprising stars and cameos (a lot of which hopped on the project when they'd heard Sigourney Weaver was doing it). And remember, for all its silliness, "Jeffrey'' has a simple message. Near the end of the movie in a rather touching scene (okay, I cried) Darius says to Jeffrey, "Hate AIDS, not life.''