If recent gay media like The Last of Us Episode 3, Knock at the Cabin and Wolf Pack hasn’t made you cry in the last week, then this will definitely do it. The true story of Michael Ausiello taken from his 2017 memoir Spoiler Alert : The Hero Dies explores the relationship between Ausiello (Jim Parsons) and Kit (Ben Aldridge) as they start a relationship and build a life together. Knowing this is based on a true story raises the stakes as the story plays out and the inevitable events play out, the outstanding performances from Parsons and Aldridge along with a stellar supporting cast including Sally Field, Bill Irwin and Antoni Porowski elevate this movie to queer classic status.
Set in the late 90, Ausiello is working at TV Guide magazine as a writer, living his best single life with similarities to Will Truman from Will & Grace (IFKYK!) out one night randomly at a club he meets Kit, a graphic designer for a restaurant’s marketing firm and the two connect instantly. As their lives and friends intertwine, their relationship blooms and we get to witness the rom-com-style antics of true love. This however is not the happy ending that usually comes along with a film like this. It’s no spoiler to say that Kit develops an aggressive form of cancer and must rely on his relationship with Michael and his parents Marilyn (Sally Field) and Bob (Bill Irwin) who must all band together to help Kit through treatment.
It’s weird territory for a rom-com to flip to this tragedy mode and then switch between styles like this movie does. There are flashbacks to Michael’s childhood told in 80’s sitcom fashion that don’t always work to serve the interests of the story. It does provide some insight into Michael’s childhood and why he is the way he is, however, it falls flat as it’s relatively surface level and really takes you out of the moment rather than enhancing it.
While most of the focus is on Parsons, it is Aldridge who really shines in this. He finds the perfect balance between the truly hilarious comedic moments and when things get serious and he needs to go and ugly cry in a bathroom. A large part of believing this romance rests purely on Aldridge and his charm. He oozes charisma as the cool and fun side of the relationship and his complete and opposite view on the world to Michael. The chemistry between Parsons and Aldridge is perfect which makes the end of the movie more tragic. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how incredible both Sally Field and Bill Irwin as Kit’s parents. Their role as supportive parents who have to balance between being there for their only son who is going to die and working through their own grief is no easy feat and both pull it off incredibly.
As depressing and gut-wrenchingly sad as the subject matter is, director Michael Showalter manages to infuse enough comedic elements and career-defining performances to keep audiences leaving the cinema feeling too depressed. Getting this balance right is notably easy from the director of The Big Sick. Presenting queer stories in mainstream cinema is nothing new, however, having queer actors in these roles and showcasing the life and joy of these relationships is a new thing. Showalter does this perfectly and helps shift the narrative towards presenting queer stories in true Bros style as mainstream stories.
Spoiler Alert is a perfect blend of drama and comedy that dives deeper into the relationship of two people who are building a life together. With career-defining performances from Aldridge and Parsons, the shortcomings of the script are easily forgiven.
Spoiler Alert is now showing in Australian cinemas.
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