Review: Spoiler Alert

Score:  B+

Director:  Michael Showalter

Cast:  Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge, Sally Field, Bill Irwin

Running Time:  112 Minutes

Rated:  PG-13

"The hardest thing about a story ending is that you have to say goodbye."

Life is a roller coaster of emotions. Comprised of a perpetual onslaught of highs and lows, each journey is different. That said, the ultimate destination forever remains the same.

Michael Showalter's Spoiler Alert never attempts to trick its viewers. We begin at the end: two men lie on a hospital bed staring at one another. Jim Parsons' Michael Ausiello breaks the moment with a voiceover that fills us in on the current situation. The words seem casual and free-flowing, the pacing that of a storyteller.

Based on Ausiello's memoir Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, the account is, by all means, his. But as with any narrative, the true heart and pulse of the story lie intertwined within the world around him, comprised of the laughs, tears, milestones, and revelations of not only him but those he loves.

A writer for TV Guide in the early 2000s, Ausiello is a career-driven gay man obsessed with jogging and pop culture. After the magazine's editor shoots down a pitch involving Gilmore Girls, he finds himself on a tight deadline to conjure up something relating to Fear Factor, a new, highly addictive reality staple. But his coworker has other plans, one involving "jock night" at a local gay bar.

Cue handsome photographer Kit Cowan (played by Ben Aldridge).

While some of the humor surrounding the two's initial introduction won't resonate with the traditional viewer, the queer community will appreciate the beautifully interlaced comedy and drama encapsulating Michael and Kit's courtship. The two fill voids the other didn't realize they had as they work through the awkward moments of dating, celebrating the small moments while working to understand better who they are, what they want, and the defining details of their relationship.

It's a situation we can all relate to, even if Kit's coming out moment falls flat, the assumed anxiety muted by a pair of supportive parents played by a sorely underutilized Sally Field and Bill Irwin. The two are charming when they visit their son after an emergency operation, meeting Michael for the first time and becoming detectives to uncover the two men's genuine connection.

These simple and straightforward encounters give the film its honest, authentic voice. Aside from the characters, the film grounds itself in the reality of the situation. Sure, Michael and Kit's relationship often sits on a pedestal, but for cinematic effect, you must build up your hero before crashing them to the ground. Like life, this story doesn't allow the couple to enjoy their destined happiness forever.

Christmas, one of Michael's three childhood obsessions, is a silent character throughout the story. While its importance is never entirely acknowledged, it's fully understood. After hosting friends for a holiday party, Kit speaks of a pain he is experiencing. Having already lost his mother to cancer, Michael begins to worry. His concerns prove valid.

For all that Spoiler Alert does right during its first two acts, the third is its strongest. Both Parsons and Aldridge give humbling performances that radiate human affection and love, connecting the audience with their struggles as they navigate their future that has suddenly become questionable. Much of that is thanks to the real-life events that took place years ago in a small downtown apartment in New York City. But director Michael Showalter also deserves credit for pushing the story into a broader universe, showcasing a duo who, far from perfect, evolve with life's unfair hardships.

Like life, with Spoiler Alert, we already know the ending. But the journey is where the meat lies. The love, sacrifice, joy, and struggles give the film its heart. Is it here where we learn most and are reminded of life's most precious things.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.