Jon Lunger and Matt Candio love watching movies. So much so that they have turned pointing out questionable plot points and head-scratching story beats into a successful art form.
In their show "Spoiler Alert," the two performers recreate Hollywood blockbusters and beloved cinematic favorites in front of a live audience. They have already poked fun at box office behemoths Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Home Alone, Titanic, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Their next target? Roland Emmerich's 1996 alien invasion hit Independence Day on July 3 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. Lunger and Candio will be doing two performances that evening: 8 and 10:15 p.m.
"(Independence Day) has an amazing cast. (Jeff) Goldblum. (Will) Smith. Randy Quaid! It's stupid fun and it's objectively stupid. What's not to love?" Lunger said. "Matt and I do this show because we both love movies. I never met anyone who loves movies the way Matt Candio does, so that's what makes it such an enjoyable process."
"Spoiler Alert" is not true improv, Lunger explained, because he and Candio are riffing off a plot of a film that's scripted. However, Lunger pointed out the what audiences see acted out on stage is based purely off memory. Lunger and Candio do not write the show or discuss with each other what they are going to say on stage.
"What you see on stage is not rehearsed. What we're doing is based on the two or three times we've watched (the film) together," Lunger said. "We couldn't do this if we weren't connecting with each other on stage."
Though it is a comedy show, Lunger said he and Candio do have love for the films they are sending up. The goal is not to bash the flicks, but to point how all movies are ridiculous, Lunger said -- even if it's questioning something as seemingly trivial as the total cost of the pizzas ordered by the McCallister family in the beginning of Home Alone.
"We are condensing somewhere between 90 minutes and three hours of a movie everyone knows... It's hard to pass over scenes that you wanted to spend time on. Watching that struggle is part of what people enjoy about these shows," Lunger said. "The sheer act of recreating movies in under an hour is very enjoyable and very stressful. Matt and I still get crazy nervous before these shows; that pressure to live up to why everybody loves that movie."
Lunger and Candio have spent close to a decade performing together in various Lehigh Valley improv comedy troupes, including fan favorites ManDudeBro. (ManDudeBro retired in December 2017.) "Spoiler Alert," Lunger acknowledged, has earned a special place in his heart.
"We've got a nice little following of people who come to every (show). The conversations that come up afterward, being able to talk to people after shows is great," Lunger said. "We're super nerds so it's fun to talk to other movie nerds. I have so much fun doing it."
"Spoiler Alert: Independence Day" will take place 8 and 10:15 p.m. Tuesday at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem. Tickets cost $7-$8.