[Screen It]


(2022) (Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge) (PG-13)

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Romantic Dramedy: Two men must contend with various challenges during their years-long relationship.

After seeing TV reporter Michael Ausiello (JIM PARSONS) cuddled up on a hospital bed with his gravely ill husband, photographer Kit Cowan (BEN ALDRIDGE), we flashback to everything that has led up to that point, including when the two men meet years earlier. Back then, Michael writes for TV Guide and doesn't go out much, but ends up dragged to a club where he meets Kit and the two immediately hit it off.

Yet, while Michael is comfortable with his sexuality and was open about that with his late mother when he was just a boy, Kit has yet to inform his parents -- Marilyn (SALLY FIELD) and Bob (BILL IRWIN) -- that he's gay, let alone in a relationship with Michael.

As the years pass by, the two must contend with that and various obstacles that show up in their relationship, including Kit's serious illness.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10

I have a movie reviewer friend who -- unlike nearly every other film critic who thinks it's cinematic blasphemy to know any detail about a movie before they see it -- could care less if she knew the plot developments or even the ending of any given film before viewing it.

And that's because she was more interested in how everything worked as a collective whole rather than being concerned about the "virgin" aspect of experiencing a movie for the first time. Granted, some films are more entertaining in the moment if you're kept on the edge of your seat unsure of what will happen next, but my friend wasn't wrong about her viewpoint.

All of which brings us around to the appropriately titled "Spoiler Alert," a romantic dramedy that seems to begin at or near the end of the story -- where we see Michael Ausiello (Jim Parsons) snuggled up on a hospital bed with his very sick husband, Kit Cowan (Ben Aldridge) -- before rewinding back through the moments leading up to that.

It's based on the novel of the same name that -- yes, spoiler alert -- had the second part of the title read "The Hero Dies." Now, before anyone jumps on me for mentioning that, at that moment in the film, we don't know who the hero is, Hollywood is no stranger to changing aspects of novels when adapting them, and director Michael Showalter previously navigated us through a similar story in "The Big Sick" where -- yeah, spoiler alert part deux for those who haven't seen it -- everything turned out okay.

I haven't read the source material and thus can't say how faithful screenwriters David Marshall Grant & Dan Savage are in adapting that work into a nearly two-hour-long film. After that possibly telling opening, we head back many years where we see Michael, a writer for TV Guide -- whose formative days as a boy are seen in fabricated, laugh-track-heavy TV sitcom-style flashbacks -- being dragged to a club by a coworker who wants to see Michael get lucky.

He does, but not in that exact way, at least at first, when he meets Kit, a handsome and seemingly more socially assure photographer. It's love at first sight, and after some awkward (and funny) early moments, the two become an item. Yet, whereas Michael's late mother was fully aware of him being gay, Kit's mom and dad (Sally Field and Bill Irwin) have remained in the oblivious parent closet, so to speak.

At least until they're forced to learn the truth, and that, the usual ups and downs of relationships in general, and a medical diagnosis then make up the rest of the film's storyline. Despite being an overly familiar "disease of the week" sort of plot -- notwithstanding the gay couple angle -- it's all still done in a funny, sad, and definitely emotionally effective way. And that's even despite knowing -- or guessing -- how things are going to end. "Spoiler Alert" rates as a 6 out of 10.

Posted December 9, 2022

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