Spoiler Alert: These guys are in the movie (CREDIT: Giovanni Rufino / © 2022 FOCUS FEATURES LLC.)

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

Director: Michael Showalter

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Straightforward Talk About Adult Relationships and Serious Illness

Release Date: December 2, 2022 (Limited Theaters)/December 9, 2022 (Expands Nationwide)

What’s It About?: Michael Ausiello probably would’ve been perfectly fine writing about TV and living on his own for the rest of his life. Or maybe I’m being a little presumptive… Either way, the version of him played by Jim Parsons in Spoiler Alert (based on Ausiello’s memoir of the same name) seems pretty content with his cushy TV Guide gig and heading home on his own to his Jersey City apartment at the end of every workday. But then he goes out drinking one night and just happens to really hit it off with a fellow by the name of Kit Cowan (played here by Ben Aldridge). It’s the early 2000s, so it’s becoming a gradually easier time for a gay couple to be visible in America. But just as soon as Michael and Kit become comfortable in their togetherness, Kit is suddenly struck by terminal cancer. And there’s nothing for Michael to do except constantly be by his side, and then adapt their story into a big screen-worthy romantic journey.

What Made an Impression?: Parsons and Aldridge’s chemistry is low-key and pretty dang believable, surely partly because Ausiello was on hand as one of the producers. There’s not really any effort to make this story representative of all queer love stories, and it’s nice to be free of that burden. There can be value in speaking for the community at large, but in this case it just makes the most sense for it to be only Michael and Kit’s story, and their story alone

But what really sells Spoiler Alert to me are the flashbacks to Michael’s childhood with his brothers and widowed mother. They’re presented like a stereotypical cheesy family sitcom, which is basically catnip to a generation that was raised on the likes of Growing Pains and Full House. Of course, it also speaks right to my heart as a fellow professional connoisseur of entertainment. But I think this approach can also work for any adult who stays in touch with their inner child by searching for a way back to a comfortable home.

And it also helps that Sally Field and Bill Irwin are on hand as Kit’s fully supportive parents. Field is a veteran of director Michael Showalter’s oeuvre, and well, if you’ve been paying attention to cinema of the past 40 years, you know that her casting makes 1000% perfect sense. Irwin is a bit more of an oddball choice, as he’s known primarily for mind- and body-bending roles, like a mutant scientist on FX’s Legion and the voice of TARS in Interstellar. But weirdos have hearts too, and some of them grow up to be dads, so he proves to be an inspired choice. Overall, the tone is just spot on throughout. Spoiler alert: your heart will swell full-to-bursting by the end.

Spoiler Alert is Recommended If You Like: Bittersweet romcoms, 80s Sitcoms, 90s Sitcoms, The rise of Peak TV culture

Grade: 4 out of 5 Doctor’s Visits