AIDS-stricken Nick Stark (Roberts) plans a two-day bash for family and friends to celebrate his life, after which he will commit suicide rather than suffer an agonising, undignified death. Nick's boyfriend (Harrison) is torn between his dying lover and a toy boy; his nephew may or may not be practising safe sex; and his estranged, alcoholic father (Segal) merely nods off on the sofa.
This is Hollywood's latest attempt to convince the world that nobody spins a terminal illness yarn like they can, especially when that illness is AIDS. However, whereas, say, Jeffrey tackled the thorny problem of HIV within a gay partnership with wry humour and poignancy, this opts for the sort of ham-fisted sentimentality that may induce tissue-wringing across the Atlantic but is likely to leave more discerning British audiences cold.
All this would have been fine if treated with the joie de vivre it demands, but as most of the guests just spout over-sincere epithets or look so miserable you'd think that their host was already dead, what unfolds is the kind of maudlin depression trip usually reserved for TV movies. Only the charming Matlin, and Bronson Pinchot as the archetypal queen lift the spirits. To the film's credit, its closing moments are compelling and help highlight the severity of the situation, but otherwise it's just a long succession of cliche-ridden dialogue and people bursting into tears at the drop of a hat.
Exactly the sort of hamfisted approach to supposedly sensitive storytelling that good directors try and avoid. It regains some ground towards the end, but for the most part it's just clumsy button pushing.