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The most offensive film of the decade has arrived, thank God, and it was worth waiting for. If you think Priest got people's dander up, Jeffrey will have them running for their Saturday night specials, snickersnees, and heart pills. Especially those folks unwaverable in their stances on the Catholic Church, Louise L. Hay, Mother Teresa, parents, AIDS fund-raisers, abstinence, "Cats," in-your-face-homosexuality, memorial services, 12-step groups, and life in general, take cover.
A faithful adaptation of the mega-hit off-Broadway play (which at one time starred Greg Louganis), here's the story of a sexually compulsive gay man (Steven Weber of "Wings") who one day, because of AIDS, refuses to ever copulate again. "Sex was never meant to be safe, negotiated or fatal." With sex out of the way, what is a highly energetic, attractive waiter/actor to do with all his excess energy? Why not exercise? A problem, however, arises at the gym when Steve (Michael T. Weiss) shows up studly handsome with a few days growth, muscular, personable and HOT! He also wants Jeffrey. Jeffrey wants him. But that is not enough any more, or it's possibly too much. Add the fact that Steve's HIV-positive, and Jeffrey is running for cover.
Can a healthy gay man with looks to spare live the life of a cloistered nun in New York City? Maybe with guidance he can. Jeffrey tries sexual compulsive groups, but the members seem to be looking more for couplings than chastity. He tries a post-modern evangelist (Sigourney Weaver), but she believes disease is brought on by a lack of love in a person. Then there's Church, but a gay priest (Nathan Lane), after fondling Jeffrey's buttocks, tells him God can be found on the original cast album of "My Fair Lady" while Satan resides in Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals.
Paul Rudnick, who's written such plays and films as Addams Family Values, I Hate Hamlet, and Poor Little Lambs, plus scribes a monthly column for Premiere as Libby Gelman-Waxner, is at the top of his form here. Jeffrey will have you cackling one minute, crying the next.
And although it's apparent first-time film director Christopher Ashley is still grasping aspects of the medium, the cast is sublime and overcomes any pacing problems. Steven Weber and Michael T. Weiss are perfect as the two men deemed by fate to be lovers if Jeffrey can ever get his act together. From their first kiss to their last courting dance, they have you rooting for them. Patrick Stewart, as an interior designer, and Bryan Batt, a chorus boy in "Cats," portray what some might consider "stereotypical" gays, and they do it superbly. Their Sterling and Darius are full-blooded, moving, and heart-wrenching. You miss the two whenever they're off-screen.
As for the star cameos by Weaver, Lane, Christine Baranski, Debra Monk, Kathy Najimy, and Olympia Dukakis (as a mother of a pre-operative transsexual lesbian), they'll have you on the floor, either by their great comic chutzpah or by the audacity of Rudnick's lines. There are no Sacred Cows left unscathed here, except Love, which reigns as the curative for all misery. The message is "Hate AIDS! Not Life." Who can argue with that?