by Julianna Mather
A film that actually speaks to the audience in more ways than one, Jeffrey engages the sense of humor and anxieties of the 1990's audience. The title character, played by Wings costar Steven Weber, has become disenchanted with relationships and sex in the face of AIDS. His life is further complicated by the possibility of love with the HIV-positive Steve (Mike T. Weiss). The movie details the modern ways in which Jeffrey tries to deal with his own life and fear of death. The screenplay, written by Paul Rudnick, is a witty reflection on the ways in which our society comes to terms with ourselves. Jeffrey searches for the meaning of life and death in today's society by visiting a twelve-step program, a Catholic priest, and a post-modern televangelist. While showing Jeffrey the path as the post-modern evangelist, Debra, Sigourney Weaver gives one of her more satisfying performances. Her pseudo-psychology and opinions on acrylic show the banal nature of today's self-help methods. Although, on the surface each of the methods that Jeffrey chooses appear to show the pitfalls of our society, they are not entirely without merit. When Debra tells him that evil is the absence of love, Jeffrey realizes that this is the truth that he has been looking for. What prevents Jeffrey from being a great movie is the fact that one cannot always empathize with the title character. When Jeffrey's friend Sterling (Patrick Stewart) tells him that he is "the saddest person," one must agree with him. For most of the movie, Jeffrey is unable to act. Although his musings are understandable, his constant state of indecision is not. Most of his thoughts are occupied with his attempts to escape. He runs away from a memorial service, and he even attempts to run away from the city by escaping to Wisconsin. Steven Weber's portrayal of Jeffrey does show a sensitive character, but at the same time he is a light character. The elements of humor which make this film so entertaining sometimes get in the way of the audience's ability to empathize with the character. Still this movie is worth seeing. The guest performances by Olympia Dukakis and Sigourney Weaver and Patrick Stewart's portrayal of Sterling are not to be missed. The juxtaposition of the opposing forces of Jeffrey's humor and the trials of his life is not always successful, but the movie is still refreshing.