The Big Sick (2017)

Capsule Summary (basic plot spoilers):

In The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjani stars as himself in a semi-autobiographical story about finding love in Chicago. Zoe Kazan plays Emily, his potential love interest. Problem is that she’s not from Pakistan, but from the U.S.A., which his family would refuse to accept.

It’s not your traditional rom-com, but I will say that yes, there is romance, and that there is comedy, given that Kumail is a standup comedian and he starts dating someone. Where it goes, I won’t say in this section, though the title is a bit of a spoiler.

The Big Sick is an independent film, and that works in its favor. One of the better stories I’ve seen on screen in a while, probably because it’s based on a real one. Definitely recommended!

You may find the trailer here.

Standard Review (contains some spoilers):

Kumail is a standup comedian, hoping to break into the big time. His circle of friends, Mary (Aidy Bryant), CJ (Bo Burnham), and roomate Chris (Kurn Braunohler) are cohorts who are all struggling together, hoping to be booked for bigger and better gigs. To sustain his career, he drives for Uber in the off-hours.

One performance, Kumail is heckled by Emily, a grad student. He flirts with her after the show, and they hook up. They are so serious about not dating that they stay together for a while, but it comes time to meet the parents, and Kumail backs off, because his parents would never approve, and hasn’t even mentioned Emily to them. In fact, his parents Azmat and Sharmeen (Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff) have been trying to arrange a marriage for him the whole time. Emily rightfully kicks him to the curb.

That would have been the end of that, but Emily gets the flu. Her friends are all studying for finals, so they call Kumail because someone needs to go. Things get worse quickly, and he is forced to call in her out-of-state parents Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano). Emily’s in an induced coma by the time of their arrival, and Beth is well aware of Kumail’s relationship ender. They don’t mesh well.

This is a good look inside familial relationships, and honestly, I can’t recall seeing the inner workings of a Pakistani/Muslim family as much as was shown. As I am a WASP, I will not start raving about how wonderful it was to see the ‘inner sanctum’ of Muslim family life or anything like that, but given that Kumail and his wife wrote the screenplay, I’m going to lean towards saying it’s ¬†what you’d expect about any family, steeped with its own traditions and quirks. One “we’re not so different, you and I” speech promptly avoided.

One of the best parts of the film is the acting. It did not seem like they were reading from a script, so everything felt more natural and fluid, as if it were actually playing out on the screen instead of “being a movie”. The less said about that, the better.

I rather enjoyed it, and I do recommend it very strongly. This may be one of my favourite movies of the year.