This is the long awaited movie version of the longrunning Broadway play. I remember all the hype when the play opened on
Broadway, though I never got to see it. I wish now that I had made the trip, or seen it when I was living there. The hype is not undeserved. It is a wonderfully touching story that crosses gender lines. The issues facing these eight men are issues that face all of us at some point in our lives. One of the most wonderful aspects of the movie is that these particular eight men face these issues with a great deal of humor and passion.
Our story begins over Memorial Day Weekend at the country home of Gregory Mitchell (Stephen Bogardus), a choreographer. Gregory shares this country home with his lover of several years, Bobby Brahms (Justin Kirk). Bobby is blind and quite a bit younger than Gregory. They make a beautiful couple regardless. Bobby is traveling to the country with Arthur Pape (John Benjamin Hickey) and Perry Sellars (Stephen Spinella) who have been lovers for fourteen years. Meeting them is Buzz Hauser (Jason Alexander). Buzz is an over-the-top Broadway queen who has AIDS and works in a Clinic in New York. Jason Alexander has to be commended for his portrayal of Buzz. Some of his actions are a little affected, but then, isn't every queen's? Joining the assembled group is John Jeckyll (John Glover) and his current bedmate Ramon Fomos (Randy Becker). John is a churlish composer and Ramon, aside from being eye-candy, is a dancer. It appears this first weekend that no one likes John, although they all seem taken with Ramon. Ramon, however, is only taken with Bobby. Buzz is currently working on a drag rendition of Swan Lake, for a charity fund raiser, which Gregory has agreed to choreograph. They hope to enlist the aid of the assembled men in this undertaking.
Stephen Bogardus, Justin Kirk, John Glover,
John Benjamin Hickey, Jason Alexander & Randy Becker
[photo: Attila Dory]
The second gathering of this group takes place over the fourth of July weekend, again at Gregory's country home. Our characters are more developed at this point. We learn a good deal about each, and are introduced to John's identical twin brother, James, who has come over to America from England to seek better AIDS treatment. James is the polar opposite of his brother John. Where John has offended everyone, James has come bearing gifts of love, understanding, and humor. Where John casts darkness over every encounter, James casts light. Buzz, our inimitable queen, is rather taken with James, largely due to their shared experience, but also because James is a truly beautiful soul. We learn a good deal about Perry and Arthur, also. Perry is the soul representation of the homophobic homo-the type of queen who rails against drag, and fears, because of his on insecurities, being identified with behaviors that he has been taught are aberrant. Arthur, on the other hand, represents the all together queer. He seems not to have a mean bone in his body, and no insecurities, other than vanity. They compliment each other well. Each being the missing piece of the other. Ramon, we learn, is only interested in what makes Ramon happy. He loves himself, just a little too much.
The third and final weekend that we are privy to is again spent at Gregory's country home, over the Labor Day weekend. A classic end to a three act play. We find resolution for all, or at least, as much resolution as is possible for real human beings. Gregory learns to fight for what he wants. Bobby comes to understand and appreciate what he has in his life. As James deteriorates, Buzz is given to understand the meaning of sharing and compassion. Perry and Arthur remain steadfastly committed to one another, and come to share that commitment with their friends. This sharing is revealed in a touching scene between Perry and Buzz. John remains John. There are, after all, some people who just can be saved. Ramon, unfortunately, remains Ramon. It never seems to occur the him the world doesn't revolve around him. There is a dramatic scene between Ramon and Gregory in which Gregory makes it quite clear to Ramon that he is committed to fighting for what he has. Ramon, of course, believes that the altercation is about the fact that Ramon is so much younger than Gregory, and Gregory's jealousy. Again, some people can't be moved to view the world from anywhere other than its center.
I had the occasion to think, as I was waiting to see this movie, what it is that I expect from a movie when I pay money to see it. It occurred to me that what I want is to be touched. Should the movie make me cry, or laugh, or piss me off, then I consider the movie to have done what it set out to do, and consider the money well spent. I believe this movie will provide the opportunity for you all to laugh, cry, get pissed off. There are those who will find fault with the film, saying that it perpetuates stereotypes. I disagree. The film is an accurate representation of the mix of human beings that make up the human race. 1, for one, am glad we are such a diverse group of people. As I don't have a "Star" system for rating, or give "Jalapenos" to indicate my idea of excellence or lack thereof, I will simply say, "Go see the damn movie. You won't be disappointed."