Review – The Big Sick

The Big Sick Poster

Kumail Nanjiani stars in this comedic real life account of his relationship with girlfriend Emily (Zoe Kazan), the ensuing culture clash, and unexpected complications when Emily suddenly falls very ill.

Part time Uber driver, part time stand up comedian, and part time Pakistani Muslim, Nanjiani is trying to find his way in the world while figuring out what he believes and chasing his comedic dreams all at once. A chance meeting with a particular young woman turns into a fling which turns into something much more. Circumstances conspire, however, to destroy what they have. Not only are parents and traditions standing in their way, Emily might not even live to see next week after a mysterious illness has her placed in an emergency medically induced coma.

I can’t say that I have ever seen a film that navigates a story zig zaggin between tears and laughter so quickly and with such heft and deftness ass one does.  50/50 comes to mind as a comedy about cancer, but even that is not quite in the same ball park as The Big Sick.  Part social commentary, part rom-com, and part comedic drama about stand up comedy, it does what good comedies do best – transcend the genre.

Comedy has a long tradition of addressing complicated and difficult issues with laughter and this is a perfect example of that formula working to near perfection. Heart strings and tear ducts are pulled with the same strength as your intellect and funny bones are stimulated. Ray Ramona as Emily’s dad is the perfect compliment to Nanjiani’s equally understated comedic timing, and the rest of the cast has jus great chemistry over all.

Culture clash, family tradition, honesty, dream pursual, love, and laughter, love and despair. All here. You only need look at Nanjiani’s wikipedia page to find out how everything plays out, but I suggest not doing so if you’re not already familiar with his personal life as it makes the unfolding events that much more effective.

At just over two hours, The Big Sick does feel a tad overly long. I can understand not wanting to cut many of the great moments throughout, but I think it could have benefited from a bit of tightening. As it is, things meander a bit and we probably don’t need quite as much set up before the titular event occurs. Of course, on the other hand it is nice that we actually get to know the characters before bad things start to happen to them, so we actually care. I’d rather sit through ten extraneous minutes than not have a reason to care about anyone in a movie so in the end it is a minor quibble.

An emotionally charged drama with comedy and heart, The Big Sick is a small film with a lot going for it.

Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film

Brother Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Four out of five hats

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Trailer:

The Big Sick laughcries in select theaters, including DC, on June 30