MOVIE REVIEW: The Big Sick

Romantic Comedy based on the life of comedian, who also takes the leading role, Kumail Nanjiani.  Aspiring comedian and Uber driver Kumail is having a hard time developing his stand up comedy career and also fending off the series of single women that his Pakistani mother is shoving in front of him trying to make a match.  He doesn’t want an arranged marriage, nor does he want to be a lawyer, both of which are high on the list of wants from his Parents.  When he meets a trainee therapist Emily they embark on a relationship that he knows will force his family to disown him.  Emily gets sick and must be placed into a medical coma to help her body to heal, while she’s asleep Kumail develops a relationship with her parents.

This morning I watched City of Ghosts, it’s a documentary that you should watch, although it will hit you across the face time and time again leaving you feeling battered.  Then on my walk towards the second press show, which thanks to my disability takes forever, I lived with the stories of the activists from Raqqa.  Sometimes you can be left feeling down when a documentary or a film hits you that hard.  When I got to the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield I knew that The Big Sick was a comedy and that I really needed to be able to have my mood lightened up.

Thankfully The Big Sick is probably the best romantic comedy that I’ve seen in years.  Right it might not be the funniest comedy, when you count up the laughs, but it’s got a lot of slight humour that fans of shows like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm mixed with the early Woody Allen films.  Kumail wrote this film with his real wife, and based it mainly on his own experiences.  He’s not your typical romantic lead but has a screen presence that reminds you of Woody Allen without the creepy older man younger woman thing going on.  Playing Emily is the amazing Zoe Kazan who has a great chemistry with her leading man, and also a pretty easy ride in the film, with her being in a coma for the whole middle section of the film.  Where this film stands out the most is the quality of the supporting cast.  Holly Hunter plays Emily’s mother, and Ray Romano her father, both of whom give their best performances in years.  I’m not a fan of Romano, I don’t dislike him, but I take him in small doses, if you get that meaning.  They have their own crisis going on before their daughter takes ill and working to save her life seems to bring them closer.

Kumail’s family are brilliantly cast and the comedy of what is expected of him.  In some ways the film is more about how children are expected to live up to the standards of our parents, rather than just the romantic comedy element.  That in itself gives the film a little more weight for me.  It’s not all about romance, it’s about family, and it’s about the careers that we want for ourselves.  Everything just blends together to show that culture clash that you would think we’d be over.

This is a date night movie, funny and relevant, that you can watch on your own.  I don’t know about you but I used to love going to see movies by myself, sometimes I had no choice, and my partner rarely attends screenings with me, so the only person who sits near me is a fellow reviewer.  It’s hard to get romantic with a 64-year-old balding pensioner who has more stubble than I do.  There are enough characters in the film that you’ll identify with someone and just enough of everything to leave you satisfied that you’ve experienced a great film.  Well written, directed with sympathy to all the cultures involved, and the performances are beautifully real.  I’d happily pay in to see this with my partner beside me, even though Kevin may get jealous, I think she’d appreciate it as well, but either way it’s one of my films of the year.

Director: Michael Showalter
Writers: Emily V. GordonKumail Nanjiani
Stars: Kumail NanjianiZoe KazanHolly Hunter & More: See full cast & crew

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