You might want to tackle a subject matter that is going to be absolutely gut wrenching and pull at the heart strings, but want to add a smidge of levity to the run time of your film. There’s also the fact that it is based on an actual person and their events. With all of this, first time feature writers David Marshall Grant and Dan Savage may just be the guys you’re looking for. They adapt Michael Ausiello’s book, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies for the screen and directed by Michael Showalter.
Showalter tackles these heart wrenching stories, more times than not. And Showalter particularly always gives the audience a final product that. One that makes people need to compose themselves as the lights come up. However there is also a sense of lightness here. The comedic undertones within the heaviness that allows the audience to compose themselves through the ugly sobs.
Spoiler Alert focuses on Michael (Jim Parsons) and Kit (Ben Aldridge) as they start dating. And they develop a relationship that blossoms into something larger than anticipated. The two fall in love, and inevitable fall out of love but try to just take a break. But things take a turn for the worse when Kit gets diagnosed with terminal cancer. The emotional impact that the their story then takes turns this movie from a feel good rom-com to one of deep tragedy and heartbreak. One that has top performances that will turn the largest cold hearts into warm beating beasts yet again.
Spoiler Alert works because of the performances throughout the movie. And the screenplay knowing it is based on actual events and real people. That element of reality, that we typically turn to films to escape from, makes this heartbreak that much more real for its audience. And it evokes such emotion of loss and worry and fear. It is impossible not to just feel that gut wrenching blow, taking the air away from you. The movie would be absolutely a misfire if it wasn’t for the excellent performances from both Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge. But also, there are the great performances of Sally Field playing Marilyn and Bill Irwin playing Bob, Kit’s parents.
Jim Parsons someone who spent a majority of their career (at least for what people would know him for) playing one person. Specifically, he played a relatively emotionless robotic character of Sheldon Cooper. But here, he can prove that he is much more than the sitcom character. And that he can pack a punch when he needs to. That is not to say that Spoiler Alert marks the first time that Parsons proved himself as an actor. That he has the chops for you to consider him as someone more than just Sheldon Cooper. But this is most likely the role most people will see of his showing his range. One that proves his abilities are more than he’s been credited for.
Ben Aldridge plays someone who tries to be in denial later accepts his fate. He also delivers a powerhouse performance. He manages to tug on your heartstrings and his chemistry with Parsons is undeniable. This makes the inevitable heartbreak and reality of the situation that much harder to swallow for the audience.
The biggest issue with Spoiler Alert is an aspect of the script. It’s one that very well could be part of the book as well but one I can’t confirm. Michael, on occasion, retreats to a sitcom in his head about his life. And more often than not, one of his childhood, which alleviates some of the pain and suffering he is going through as a coping mechanism. Having a few moments of the film that allows audiences to collect themselves is fine. But there is a moment in the third act where it happens that feels incredibly out of place and misused, leaving a sour taste in the audiences mouth.
It doesn’t lessen the pain of the emotional punch, but just feels so disconnected. However, it is in human nature to disconnect from horrible situations. It may be something expressed that Michael is experiencing. But seeing it unfold on screen feels out of place and removes some of the punch it packs but still continues to hurt.
Spoiler Alert boasts powerful performances while forcing the audience to connect to their emotions and reduce them to nothing but a weeping mess. Is it not for everyone and it certainly has some issues attached to it. However, the performances by Parsons and Aldridge are remarkable and bring the emotional elements to the performances, making the movie an undeniably good experience.
- Rated: PG-13
- Genre: Comedy, Drama
- Release Date: 12/9/2022
- Directed by: Michael Showalter
- Starring: Allegra Heart, Ben Aldridge, Braxton Fannin, Brody Caines, Jeffrey Self, Jim Parsons, Josh Pais, Tara Summers
- Produced by: Alison Mo Massey, Alyssa Murphy, Jason Sokoloff, Jim Parsons, Jordana Mollick, Michael Showalter, Todd Spiewak
- Written by: Dan Savage, David Marshall Grant, Michael Ausiello
- Studio: Semi-Formal Productions, That's Wonderful Productions