Friday, July 7, 2017

The Big Sick

Well, here's an unique love story. Adapted from the true events of his own life, and co-written by his wife, The Big Sick stars Kumail Nanjiani as comedian and Uber driver Kumail whose relationship with Emily (Zoe Kazan) goes into a rough patch just prior to her being put into a medically-induced coma for an illness doctors struggle to properly diagnose. With Emily hospitalized, Kumail finds himself in the uncomfortable position of dealing with her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano), and the expectations of his own parents (Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff) concerning his future.

Not as dark (or unconventional) as it sounds, The Big Sick fits pretty easily in the dramedy category with pieces of the real events exaggerated for either comedic or dramatic effect (or sometimes both). While it certainly has some romantic comedy leanings, the best parts of the movie come not from the conflict but the building of relationships, first between Kumail and Emily and later between Kumail and her parents. If you've seen the trailer you've seen almost all the film's best jokes, but there's still an enjoyable (if predictable) story to watch unfold.

The other thread to the story involves Kumail's career as a struggling stand-up comedian which allows him to first meet Emily and later provides a sardonic and sarcastic support system (Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler, and Bo Burnham) as his life gets more and more complicated following her illness. There's some nice scenes here, but the primary focus of the movie is, of course, elsewhere. Romano and Hunter are both used well in supporting roles as parents initially distrustful of Kumail but also consumed with fear and doubt about the fate of her daughter and in need of all the support they can get.

In terms of a feel-good cross-cultural love story you could compare The Big Sick with something like Bend It Like Beckham. The fact that it is based on on real experiences gives the film a bit more weight, although several of its funniest moments are obviously due to exaggerations of the real story. In the end The Big Sick is an undeniably entertaining film with a nice message about love, acceptance, and second chances that, nevertheless, at times may be a bit too Hollywood for its own good.

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