Spoiler Alert (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)
Updated: Dec 9, 2022
SPOILER ALERT (2022)
Starring Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge, Sally Field, Bill Irwin, Antoni Porowski, Nikki M. James, Jeffery Self, Tara Summers, Paco Lozano, Josh Pais, Allegra Heart, Braxton Fannin, Brody Caines, Corey Saucier, Megan Irminger, Sadie Scott, Eleni Yiovas, Jason Gotay, Nhumi Threadgill, David Marshall Grant, Antoni Porowski, Supriya Ganesh and Winslow Bright.
Screenplay by David Marshall Grant & Dan Savage.
Directed by Michael Showalter.
Distributed by Focus Features. 112 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Earlier this year, comedian Billy Eichner tried to make a same-sex version of an old-fashioned romantic comedy with Bros, and despite good reviews and positive word of mouth, it was mostly overlooked by the filmgoing public at large.
Spoiler Alert is trying to capture a similar vibe as Bros did, although after half of the film is a sweet and often funny look at two men in love, towards the end it veers into tragedy when one of the men is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
It will probably be a tough sell as well, but Spoiler Alert is worthy of capturing a following. (Then again, so was Bros.)
Spoiler Alert is based on the memoir Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies by longtime TV Guide writer Michael Ausiello about how the love of his life was afflicted with cancer. (And honestly, although I can get why the filmmakers didn’t want to use the whole title of the book which may scare off some potential viewers, without the punchline the film’s name doesn’t really make much sense to the story it is telling.)
Starring (and produced by) former The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, Spoiler Alert does a good job of doing an old-fashioned love story in which it is mostly not dwelled upon that the couple are both men. This could be any romantic partnership anywhere; the gender of the participants is not the defining aspect.
And the early scenes are quite charming in their exploration of a relationship, from meeting cute (Ausiello makes his move because he thinks his future boyfriend Kit Cowan is checking him out in a gay bar, but it turns out Kit was looking for a female friend standing behind Ausiello) to their halting steps into a relationship, to long-time partnership.
Ausiello (Parsons) is a TV writer who is obsessed by the form – in fact in a regular gag he remembers his childhood as a cheesy 80s sitcom. Cowan (Ben Aldridge) is a photographer who doesn’t even have a TV. They have little in common, and yet they make a perfect pair.
Simple economic question: How do a writer for TV Guide and a self-employed, rarely working photographer afford such a great New York apartment? Believe me, I was once offered a job writing for TV Guide and I had to turn it down because the salary was so low that I couldn’t afford to take it even though I would have loved the job. Granted, I was not on Ausiello’s level on the food chain there, but still….
Everything is sweet and charming, until – as so often happens – life got in the way. Or death, more like. Kit was diagnosed with cancer, and Spoiler Alert becomes a very different movie, a much more serious, slightly depressing one.
That said, as much as the cancer destroys their lives, oddly the film just slightly whitewashes the disease. It is rare that we see Kit really sick. In fact other than losing his hair and getting ashen and fatigued at the very end, Kit seems mostly rather healthy – or at least able to live rather normally – through much of the entire ordeal.
Spoiler Alert co-star Sally Field (she plays Kit’s doting mom here) played a woman dying of cancer in the mostly overlooked 2006 drama Two Weeks, in which the horrors of dying of cancer were examined much more starkly – for better or worse. (It’s certainly more difficult to watch, but that film did capture the hideous scourge of cancer much more realistically.)
However, despite the downer of an ending – as the book title warns, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies – this film will probably be mostly remembered for the earlier scenes of the building of a loving relationship. Which is probably as it should be.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 8, 2022.