Spoiler Alert Review: Make the Yuletide Gay

A heartfelt holiday romance

It’s no spoiler alert that gay people always die at the end of movies. I can hardly complain, since Black characters always die first. We at least get to go along for the ride. However, the inevitability of dying isn’t always linked to the tragedy that too often defines queer narratives. Happiness and love, fleeting as they may be, are welcome in whatever dose—brief or long—one can get.

The bittersweet inevitability of love found and lost too soon hangs over the Christmas weepie Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies. The film adapts Michael Ausiello’s memoir of the same name, which recounts his relationship with his late husband, Kit. Thanks to Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge, respectively, Michael and Kit’s all-too-short romance is a touching, funny, and frankly humane look at love and life.

Michael, however, has a weird relationship with romance thanks to his work at TV Guide. Reared on happy endings in shows featuring almost exclusively heterosexual couples, he has some cognitive dissonance with the fact that he’s a catch. His expertise, though, is more Felicity and reality show listicles. Work situates Michael’s sense of escapism within that weird early 2000s’ vibe where the influx of reality TV had everyone caught between unrealistic expectations about life. But then Michael’s friend, the other token gay at work, drags him to jock night at a bar. Cue a few drinks and come-hither glances, and Michael and Kit begin a decade-long romance.


Sneaking Around, Coming Out

Their courtship unfolds tenderly with all the usual hang-ups, pauses, and moments of mutual discovery of relationships that click. They have very different lives, though. Michael seems grounded despite being utterly insecure around Kit. On the other hand, the buffer, cockier Kit is still in the closet to his parents. Their relationship therefore adopts an air of sneaking around except when they’re with friends.


However, when Kit receives a concerning diagnosis, his parents Marilyn (Sally Field) and Bob (Bill Irwin) make a visit. They deduce the situation quickly when their son’s “friend” is always around and knows his way around the apartment. Spoiler Alert doesn’t fixate on Kit’s coming out. It’s a quick confirmation of what his parents already know, but there’s something authentically painful about it. Marilyn briefly steals the moment and makes it all about her feelings. She wants drama more than she wants her son to find love. Spoiler Alert lets this moment sink in to share what Michael and Kit carry: the stakes of a successful relationship have a different weight. For some people, happy endings are also something to prove.


The Little Things

Michael and Kit’s story defines itself with the little things. It’s about the idea of getting to know someone’s quirks, which injects humorous heart as Michael’s obsessive Smurf collection adapts as the men build a home together. Kit finds Michael’s love for the little blue men weird, but he accepts what they mean for him. Michael, meanwhile learns to tolerate the fact that Kit doesn’t watch TV.

The importance of things said and unsaid fuels the dramatic turns of the film. Michael can’t shake his conviction that Kit will leave him, which underscores the painful truth that Ausiello shares. Gay people spend years of their lives worrying about abandonment and rejection. It’s ingrained in our beings. That’s why relationships often happen later and why they’re sometimes harder to come by. Spoiler Alert intimately opens its heart to audiences to share the importance of taking hold of love before it passes you by.

The drama of life unfolds as Kit’s health declines and Michael tries to savour the time they have together. Christmas plays a special role as Michael loves to nestle under the tree and imagines them growing older. It becomes especially touching when keeps up the ruse knowing that will never happen, but he commits to making the yuletide gay. Spoiler Alert goes for few big laughs and a handful of swelling emotional moments. Its finale inevitably brings a tear to the eye, but the adaptation by writers David Marshall Grant and Dan Savage (the first dramatic screenplay by the commentator/comic) favours relatively mundane moments of daily life. In doing so, though, Spoiler Alert is relatively safe, aside from a bedside handjob and a stylish send-off for Kit. Gay love stories can be just as generic as straight ones.



Bros Before Ho Ho Hos

Moreover, Spoiler Alert frequently echoes Billy Eichner’s more personable Bros. Many narrative beats mirror the R-rated comedy. Spoiler Alert, while being consistently charming and heart-warming, never hits the heart, humour, or hunkiness of the raunchy rom-com. Alternatively, one must also admire its restraint. Spoiler Alert doesn’t concern itself with “historic” firsts. It knows that there’s nothing history-making about Michael and Kit’s relationship. People live and people die. Love stories, even gay ones, have trysts and tussles. They bore themselves with fidelity woes and booze-fuelled insecurities. But that’s just life, and the film shares it quite candidly.

Parsons is open and vulnerable. This is a warm and lived in performance informed by life, love, and years working in bad television. (Probably not as meta as casting Hallmark hunk Luke MacFarlane in Bros, though.) He relishes his big Shirley MacLaine moment and goes full Terms of Endearment. Aurora has nothing on Michael when it comes to making a scene.

Aldridge is a fetching love interest, but Parsons finds especially great chemistry with Sally Field. Playing the mother who realizes too late that love is love (or “love is not love,” if we’re on the Bros vibe), she wears plainly a mother’s pain of wasted years. There’s a great moment in which Marilyn flips out at Michael over all the things unsaid. They’re warming up for a run, but the metaphor of her monologue is clear. It echoes in the heartbreaking farewell that Michael shares with Kit on a movie set: no matter how much we might hold on to memories, it’s better to run than to have not walked at all.

Spoiler Alert reminds us that we all die in the end. However, just because we die at the end doesn’t mean we didn’t live between the credits.



Spoiler Alert opens in theatres Dec. 2.