Where to see it? In theaters (no word yet on streaming)
Starring: Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge, Sally Field, Antoni Porowski
Written by: David Marshall Grant & Dan Savage
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Intro: Spoiler Alert Review
With the release of Bros and Fire Island, 2022 promised to be the year of the gay rom-com. And if you were to judge Spoiler Alert by its slightly-more-upbeat trailer, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was another rom-com, too.
Hailing from Michael Showalter, the director of The Big Sick and The Eyes of Tammy Faye, this romantic film has its bits of humor. But at its core, the movie is a drama- and a tragic one at that.
The film, which is based on Michael Ausiello’s memoir Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, gets the tough part out of the way from the beginning: it is a story about a man who is in love with another man that is dying from terminal cancer.
In “spoiling” the film’s most heartbreaking elements from the get-go it circumvents some of cinema’s most worn-out tropes. This isn’t another tragedy about a gay man dying that’s here to shock you with a maudlin third act. Rather it is a human-centric story about love persevering in trying circumstances.
Based on a True Love Story
The movie follows the real-life story of Michael Ausiello (The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons), who is the entertainment journalist that founded the television news site TVLine. Ausiello has dealt with his own personal tragedies, including the death of both of his parents when he was young.
Ausiello looks back on his life with a series of flashbacks that portray his life as a sitcom, owing to his love of all things TV. One night a coworker convinces him to set aside his work for a few hours and go for a night out. There he meets a hunky photographer named Kit (Ben Aldridge), who he hooks up with.
Kit is a bit more sexually adventurous and less relationship-focused than Michael, but over time their connection blooms into romance. They have conflicts just like any other couple and things are far from perfect.
In particular Michael must deal with being in a relationship with a man who is not out of the closet to his parents (played by Sally Field and Bill Irwin). Things get especially complicated when Kit is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The movie follows their relationship as they weather these challenges.
The Subtleties of Love
Much of the film centers on the small moments of everyday life. Beyond Kit’s diagnosis, there aren’t apocalyptic-level conflicts in this movie.
In that simplicity is where our actors shine. Parsons and Aldridge have a scene in a Mexican restaurant that succeeds primarily through their non-verbal communication with each other. Despite playing two very different people, they completely sold me on the reality of this relationship wherein two opposites have come together.
Their love isn’t portrayed through something like a sweeping montage of shots as they kiss at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Instead it’s in the intimate, sweeter moments, like when they admire the Christmas tree they’ve decorated together in their apartment.
We also need to talk about Sally Field! This woman is a legend and her scenes with Jim Parsons left me bawling. Seriously, if you want the gay’s attention, put an iconic actress in the supporting cast. Ms. Field understood the assignment.
Altogether the movie succeeds at telling a tearjerker story that doesn’t feel like it’s there to be sentimental just for the sake of being sentimental. It’s a powerful film about the ways that love connects us.
Final Thoughts: Spoiler Alert Review
Spoiler Alert is the best romantic film of 2022. Despite it being a movie about two gay characters, its themes are universal and should be appreciated by all audiences regardless of orientation.
I’m glad I saw this film in theaters instead of waiting for it to hit streaming. There’s something magical about going on the tearful journey this film transports you to with a live audience. As I sat ugly crying in an AMC Theater I was reminded of the words of Nicole Kidman, “somehow heartbreak feels good in a place like this.” Indeed it does.
Go see this movie- and bring some tissues!