The Big Sick
Out Now On-Demand
Director Michael Showalter and co-writer/co-star Kumail Nanjiani (TV's Silicon Valley) reteam for this Judd Apatow-produced culture clash rom-com, a Sundance hit.
"Based on the true story of the film’s writers (and real-life couple), Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, this modern culture clash shows how Pakistan-born Kumail (Nanjiani) and his American girlfriend, Emily (Kazan), have to overcome the expectations of his family and their 1,400-year-old traditions. As his parents relentlessly set him up with potential brides for an arranged marriage, Kumail navigates treacherous waters in the worlds of both dating and stand-up comedy." (Sundance Film Festival)
Winner of the Audience Award (Festival Favourites), 2017 SXSW Film Festival
- Michael Showalter('Hello, My Name Is Doris', 'The Baxter')
Rating: M Offensive language & sexual references
Sometimes the obstacles movie characters have to overcome in their stories turn out to be impediments to audiences enjoying them, or at the very least, thinking they will. The Big Sick is a case in point - as someone who’s not a huge rom-com fan, seeing one in which cross-cultural romance and a girlfriend in a coma are major plot drivers, wouldn’t normally appeal to me. I say this right up front, because if they’d similarly pose a problem for you, just promptly ignore them and see this funny, unique, and honest film anyway.
Based on the real-life meet-coma of Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani and producer/fellow Indoor Kid podcast host Emily V. Gordon, and written by the couple, The Big Sick stars Kumail Nanjiani as aspiring comic Kumail Nanjiani. Zoe Kazan steps into Gordon’s shoes, as clever a decision as it is a strong embodiment of Gordon’s characteristics. While Nanjiani has confident screen presence, he isn’t a phenomenal actor, and film benefits by surrounding him with strong performances (see also Holly Hunter and, surprisingly, Ray Romano).
The strong desire of Nanjiani’s parents for him to enter a traditional Pakistani arranged marriage, and Gordon’s sudden hospitalisation may frequently be seen as convenient, manipulative, devices of hack writers. But with the weight of reality behind them - sure, tailored to the requirements of a feature film - they don’t feel cheap. If anything, given the preponderance of stand-up focused material in recent years, it’s Nanjiani’s comedy career that feels the most over-hashed element of what’s a refreshingly entertaining film with a hell of a lot of heart.
Give this a miss. Starts well but after 20-30 mins loses its way and never recovers
The Big Sick
THE BIG SICK is a solid romantic comedy that's smartly written, well acted and has a lot of heart. Kumail Nanjiani is fantastic playing himself (the film is based on a true story). Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are great as the girlfriend's parents. Zoe Kazan isn't in the film a whole lot but she was pretty good too. I don't laugh at comedies a lot, but there's a brilliant 9/11 joke that was so funny it caught me off guard. It's overlong and I don't think it's the classic critics are saying it is, but I liked THE BIG SICK. It's a good one to take your mum to see.
awkward rom com's are my fav
I so enjoyed this and it was surprisingly deeper than I expected it to be. Touching on difficult subject matter without turning it into sentimental crassness. The two leads and the parents are just engaging and wonderful but then i'm a complete sucker for the awkward romantic tearjerkers. Saw this with other females as part of the 'Girls Night out' and would recommend to other like minded individuals.
My companions enjoyed it....
but i certainly didn't. Yes there were moments of humour and delight but, well, it is a rom com and not a great one at that. Bizarrly it's true which is so strange given that the whole story is completely unbelievable - but that is how most rom coms are. SO - full disclosure - I hate rom coms but I got out voted by my companions.
a clever rom-com that laughs where few dare to tread
Just when you give up on ever seeing something original in the overcrowded romantic comedy genre along comes something fresh and clever. But what is so funny about being a Muslim or being placed in an induced coma? The double-edged sword of stand-up comedy works brilliantly in The Big Sick (2017), a story that finds intelligent inter-racial humour where few dare to tread.
It’s a simple story that really happened. Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is from a traditional Pakistani Muslim family who expect their son to pray regularly until the right girl is found for an arranged marriage. He pretends to study law but he really wants to be a stand-up comedian because he has a knack for making people laugh at themselves. At a comedy gig a heckler named Emily (Zoe Kazan) winds him up and they are soon friends. She insists it’s a one-night fling but they are soon in the deep end. Just as the inter-racial issue becomes a sticking point, Emily is struck by a sudden and mysterious illness that requires her to be placed in an induced coma. For the next two weeks, Kumail is a constant presence at the hospital where he meets her parents Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano). It’s a rocky relationship at first but Kumail’s support and personality wins them over.
It may not seem that this story has much going for it. Given its autobiographical source, Kumail essentially plays himself as a professional stand-up comic and cannot avoid depicting racial stereotypes. The initially fractious then warm relations with Emily’s folks progresses too quickly and their endless conversations over both serious and trivial matters often feels as if their daughter was away at camp rather than struggling for life. The movie length of almost two hours is a risky call for a rom-com, especially as the story offers little suspense. So what makes the movie work? It’s all about the script and timing of delivery. The dialogue is genuinely funny, insightful, and heartfelt. The current political climate of Muslim-phobia makes the timing prescient at several levels, and the non-stop one-liners keep getting laughs while making you squirm in your seat. Rapid-fire quips across hot-button issues like 9/11 and terrorism illuminate prejudice without giving offence. Kumail’s performance has natural authenticity and never feels like he is exploiting the racial tensions of our era. His delivery is immaculately understated and on target every time. Zoe Kazan has much less share of the screen but she is warm and wonderful in what we see. The chemistry between the co-stars makes the film work.
Some audiences will detour around any film with a nauseous title like The Big Sick. Don’t make that mistake. The metaphor refers not only to Emily’s illness but to the wider social malaise of nations erecting walls to keep people out and condemning what they do not understand. Laughter dissolves difference.