Movie Review ~ Spoiler Alert

The Facts:

Synopsis: Based on Michael Ausiello’s best-selling memoir, the film is a heartwarming, funny, and life-affirming story of how Michael and Kit’s relationship is transformed and deepened when one of them falls ill.
Stars: Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge, Sally Field, Bill Irwin
Director: Michael Showalter
Rated: PG-13
Running Length: 112 minutes
TMMM Score: (9/10)
Review: Aside from ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’ back in grade school, I can’t remember when I sobbed while reading a book before ‘Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies.’  Michael Ausiello’s 2017 memoir about his life with husband Kit Cowan, from their initial meeting until his death from neuroendocrine cancer in 2015, was a harrowing, unvarnished look at one couple and their relationship’s ups and downs.  It documented not only how being with someone can be wildly romantic and wonderful but that the bad times can be a struggle and make you feel like the effort can be for naught.  Ultimately, the love shared between them was what made the loss so devastating, and that was beautifully conveyed to the reader.

I didn’t know how that would be captured on film.

The movie adaptation, shortened to Spoiler Alert, has been brought to life by screenwriters Dan Savage (yes, that Dan Savage) and actor David Marshall Grant (who has a small role), and they’ve taken Ausiello’s book and presented it to viewers as a real gift.  That same emotional beauty is still there, and how they’ve structured the piece pays tribute to Michael and Kit’s bond but also tips its hat in numerous ways to the kind of romantic comedies and tear-jerkers many of us grew up with.

Admittedly, I can’t say that I’m a fan of Jim Parsons (The Boys in the Band), so his casting as Michael gave me doubts.  I still find him a bit too gangly for the role and slightly too old, but he carries the film with the appropriate weight and sincerity it needs.  Ben Aldridge (Knock at the Cabin) is the winner between the two, deftly showing the range of feelings from Kit and likely having less real-world access to draw from in doing so.  Then there’s Sally Field (Lincoln), who knows her way around a five-hanky weepie or two, correctly netting more laughs than tears as Kit’s triathlete mom.  The great Bill Irwin (Interstellar) is also on hand for the grounded performance only an actor with his gravitas could offer.

Director Michael Showalter is undoubtedly on a roll with finding projects that draw out beautiful performances from his stars.  On the big screen, he’s been at the helm of The Eyes of Tammy Faye and The Big Sick, and on the small screen, his work has been represented in The Dropout, and I Love That For You. You’ll notice how many of these have been rightfully rewarded/awarded by voting bodies – that has to say something about his contributions from his perch in the director’s seat. 

Note: Due to timing, I missed Spoiler Alert in theaters, and that’s a good and a bad thing. It’s good because, like reading the book, I cried so hard I needed an entire roll of paper towel to squeegee off my face.  Bad because the film had an unfairly short theatrical run and disappointingly small box office take.  These are the kind of impactful, human stories that audiences crave, and I’m more than a little surprised it didn’t take off more. Here’s hoping a far greater audience discovers this at home.

The Silver Bullet ~ Men, Women & Children

menwomen

Synopsis: A look at the sexual frustrations that young teenagers and adults face in today’s world.

Release Date: October 3, 2014

Thoughts: Earlier in 2014 Jason Reitman had what some consider his first real stumble with the coolly received Labor Day.  I was one of the few that seemed to absolve it from its awkward assembly and languid pacing because it’s clear that Reitman is a filmmaker that knows exactly what he’s doing and what he wants to say.  With October’s Men, Women & Children, Reitman is taking a page from the American Beauty experience and digging under the perfect veneer of a suburbia and its inhabitants.  With its tantalizing images played over a silky update of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”, I get the feeling Men, Women & Children has the potential to truly put Reitman on the A list if handled correctly.

The Silver Bullet ~ “Men in Black III” Trailer

 

Synopsis: Agent J travels in time to MIB’s early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

Release Date:  May 25, 2012

Thoughts:  Not being the biggest fan of the first Men In Black or its rotten sequel, I remember rolling my eyes a bit when I heard a third film was in the works.  It felt a bit like all involved were going back to the well to replenish their bank accounts.  An early teaser trailer didn’t do much to get me excited for the return of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.   With the arrival of this newer preview, though, my interest is unexpectedly peaked.  The time-travel concept seems like a nice way to liven up things up a bit and Josh Brolin should prove to be a nice version of Jones circa the ‘60’s.  Of course it’s also being released in 3D and IMAX to increase the box office take but I’ve a feeling this one should play well in whatever format you choose to see it in.