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The Big Sick Review

June 26, 2017 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
The Big Sick
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The Big Sick Review  

Directed By: Michael Showalter
Written By: Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
Runtime: 120 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language including some sexual references

Kumail Nanjiani – Kumail
Zoe Kazan – Emily
Holly Hunter – Beth
Ray Romano – Terry
Anupam Kher – Azmat
Zenobia Shroff – Sharmeen
Bo Burnham – CJ
Aidy Bryant – Mary
Kurt Braunohler – Chris
David Alan Grier – Andy Dodd

Based on true events, The Big Sick is a rather unconventional type of romantic comedy based on events that actually happened in the lives of comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon. Nanjiani co-writes the script alongside his wife, which tells the story of a period when Emily was suffering through a debilitating illness and was in a medically induced coma.

The narrative generally follows the life of Kumail’s character, conveniently named Kumail, a working comedian in Chicago who moonlights as an Uber driver. A chance encounter with a viewer of his comedy act leads to a fling with the young lady, Emily (Kazan). The sparks fly and the two hit it off and eventually start dating. However, Kumail is reluctant to get more serious with Emily because he’s afraid of introducing her to his very traditional Pakistani family. Kumail’s parents are constantly urging him to marry a Pakistani girl of Muslim faith, and they constantly set him up on matchmaking dates.

Emily beings to grow anxious because Kumail seems none too interested in meeting her parents. After finding Kumail’s box of past matchmaking date photos that he kept as personal mementos, she abruptly ends their relationship. But Kazan soon becomes gravely ill, and Kumail unwittingly becomes the emergency contact to have Emily get a medically induced coma as the doctors struggle to figure out and diagnose her ailment. Emily’s coma finally brings Kumail into contact with her parents, Terry (Romano) and Beth (Hunter). While their relationship is at first tenuous and uneasy, they eventually bond due to Kumail’s love and concern for Emily.

The Big Sick could probably be classified as a romantic comedy or rom-com, but it’s far from conventional in that regard. It would maybe be better classified as a relationship dramedy. Nanjiani and Gordon’s script really fleshes out their cinematic counterparts incredibly well, and the relationship really comes to life on screen. What’s sort of refreshing in that instead of a film being about how a couple gets together, it’s able to buck the traditional type of structure. The development of Kumail’s relationship with Emily’s parents offers some of the film’s best scenes.

This is easily one of the best performances for actor and comedian Ray Romano. The film definitely plays off of Romano’s natural comedian personality, but he’s also able to show and stretch his dramatic muscles with the role. And it’s a task he pulls of incredibly well, as the conflict over Emily’s coma brings Terry and Beth’s own marital issues to light.

Nanjiani also puts in a great performance as a man having to deal with not wanting to be alienated from his family who he loves, but he’s still at odds with some of his family’s old world customs being a bi-cultural offspring. What Nanjiani and Gordon, along with director Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer), is offer some very fleshed out realistic supporting characters in the family members for Kumail and Emily. The familial drama is executed in a way that feels natural and builds in an organic fashion.

The main issue with The Big Sick is that there is quite a bit of flab as Judd Apatow productions tend to have. The film has a few too many scenes than it really needs. There’s more underscoring of themes than what are really necessary. The dramatic resolution for Emily and Kumail is also handled in a somewhat clunky fashion that’s not quite satisfying enough. The execution is far from bad, but the writing is slightly off and mistimed.

While there is still a bit of fumbling close to the goal line, The Big Sick is a refreshing change from the usual type of romantic comedies. It’s a great film about family and relationships that’s funny, compelling and dramatic.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
The Big Sick is a great romantic dramedy about family and relationships that's brought to life with great characters and fine performances. Nanjiani, Romano and Hunter all put in splendid work in their roles, and this is definitely a comedy that spouses can enjoy watching together. There's a little bit of unnecessary padding, but director Michael Showalter directrs a strong script based on true events from the lives of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.