Surprisingly lighthearted and witty, Paul Rudnick'sJeffrey
(based on hisoff-Broadway play
) was one of the first films to tackle the AIDS crisis without patting itself on the back or offering everything up in a sobering movie-of-the-week scenario. The titular Jeffrey (Steven Weber) is a happy-go-lucky gay man who suddenly comes face to face with the fact that AIDS has turned sex into something "radioactive." Paranoid in the extreme, he vows to become celibate--at just about the same time that hunky Steve (The Pretender
's Michael T. Weiss) saunters into his life, eyes twinkling and hormones raging. The only problem is that Steve, for all his muscles and charm, is HIV-positive, thus setting Jeffrey's deepest fears into motion. When it was written in 1995,Jeffrey
struck a nerve in mining the fear that a number of gay men felt during the height of the AIDS crisis. Even just a few years later, though, Jeffrey's paranoia (what, he's never heard of condoms?) seems dated, and his behavior more self-damaging than self-aware--basically, he needs a slap upside the head as opposed to therapy. Still, Rudnick (who went on to pen the more mainstreamIn and Out
) is never one to pass up a witty one-liner or an opportunity to poke fun at anyone, andJeffrey
now stands as a hilarious, sometimes poignant portrait of gay single life and the perils of dating in a paranoid time. Weber's Jeffrey is simultaneously open to the possibilities of life and fearful to embrace them, and Weiss is, well... ...