Review: The Big Sick

The Big Sick
8 10

The Big Sick movie review Kumail Zoe Kazan Ray Romano Holly Hunter

PLOT: A struggling comedian's ex-girlfriend contracts a mysterious illness and winds up in a coma, forcing him to confront her parents and his own feelings for his one-time love.

REVIEW: THE BIG SICK is one of the most genuinely affecting romantic comedies I've seen in a long while. Granted, it's not necessarily my genre of choice, but a really good one can thoroughly win me over and give me all those "feels" the kids keep talking about. THE BICK SICK gave me an ample amount of feels because it's not only a really touching story - it happens to be a true story.

The Big Sick movie review Kumail Zoe Kazan Ray Romano Holly Hunter

The fact that it's based in reality is an added bonus, though; the film would be a winner even without that background. It was written by Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, and it's based on the fascinating rise-fall-rise of their relationship, one that was clearly screaming to be made into a movie. Nanjiani stars as a version of himself, a struggling comedian part-timing it as an Uber driver in Chicago (I don't think they had Ubers back when the real story occurred, but we can let that slide for the sake of being current). During a set one night he is politely heckled by a charming young woman named, natch, Emily (Zoe Kazan), whom he strikes up a quick rapport with. So quick, in fact, that they head back to his place soon after their meet-cute. Even turns out he's the Uber driver her app connects her with when she wants to go home.

Their relationship blossoms from there, but secrets are hidden just along the edges: Because of his family's beliefs, and at the intense urging of his mother, Kumail is expected to marry a Pakistani woman, while Emily confesses she was once married. A break-up is inevitable once these revelations come out, but a sudden mysterious illness plagues Emily, sending her into a coma and forcing Kumail (not necessarily against his will) to see to her affairs. That includes calling up her parents, easygoing Terry (Ray Romano) and stern, excitable Beth (Holly Hunter), who quickly arrive in Chicago to care for their hospitalized girl while attempting to avoid Kumail, who concernedly hovers around them.

The beats of the story aren't necessarily surprising, as Kumail and Emily parents eventually grow fond of each other even as the news on Emily seems to get increasingly concerning, and the movie becomes more about Kumail's relationships with two families: his own and Emily's. But the actors are all so good at conveying realistic moments of sadness, gratitude, drunken joviality and everything in between. Director Michael Showalter really gets the script, and is careful not to lay any one tone on too thick; the film doesn't become immersed in sitcom-y shenanigans, nor does it get bogged down in the kind of morose tear-jerking that can haunt any dramatic comedy involving sickness. Nearly every sequence rings true, perhaps by virtue of the fact most of it is based in truth, but also thanks to a creative team that understands how fill the movie with heartfelt authenticity.

Nanjiani is a unique romantic lead, and not just because of his nationality (how many Pakistani leading men are out there in Hollywood?). It's his wonderfully timid and sincere delivery that really draws you to him. Of course, he's more or less playing himself here, but that's no easy task for anyone. Bottom line is, it's an endearing performance no matter how close to the material he is. Both Hunter and Romano are exemplary; Hunter is so intense frequently that you're worried the veins are going to pop right out of her neck, but in the very next scene she can exude such compassion and generousness. Romano's performance is so lovably dad-like that his awkward, low-key delivery steals almost every exchange. His conversations with Kumail, especially one where he attempts to tell the younger man that he's a good person, are real highlights. Meanwhile, Kumail's scenes with his own family, including jokester dad (Anumpam Ker) and determined mother (Zenobia Shroff), regale us with a look at a refreshingly distinct dysfunctional unit.

Like most projects Judd Apatow is involved with (he's a producer here), the film is too long; 119 minutes is quite epic-length for a comedy of this sort. That said, there was a need for the expanded running time: the filmmakers have to take time establishing Kumail and Emily's burgeoning relationship and make us believe he genuinely cares about her when tragedy strikes; the rest of the film similarly has to draw out the time he spends with her folks and the increasingly fraught interactions with his own parents. Crucially, THE BIG SICK is never boring; we remain engaged in Kumail's and Emily's surprisingly sweet and funny story from start to finish.

Source: JoBlo.com



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