Title – The Big Sick (2017)
Director – Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer)
Cast – Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar
Plot – Based on a true story, struggling stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani is under pressure from his family to marry a fellow Pakistani through an arranged marriage but Kumail’s secret relationship with American Emily Gordon (Kazan) stands in the way. When Emily is placed in a medically induced coma due to a life-threating illness, Kumail must come face to face with some life changing decisions.
“Go pray so we can have ice cream”
Review by Eddie on 04/08/2017
The breakout star of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, being sold for distribution to Amazon Studios for an almost unheralded $12 million, autobiographical romantic dramedy The Big Sick, which is based upon its Pakistani star Kumail Nanjiani’s real-life relationship with American girl Emily Gordon, is a likeable and unique tale of star-crossed lovers that just so happens to largely take place with one of the two in a coma.
Produced by comedy heavyweight Judd Apatow, Sick is against the odds one of the most easily accessible and out of the ordinary romantic comedies in some time.
From the fact that Nanjiani plays himself, which contributes to the films feeling of realness, Nanjiani’s Pakistani heritage, which ads a whole different level to proceedings and the fact that Zoe Kazan’s loveable incarnation of Emily is in a hospital bed for a majority of the films runtime, Sick offers up a different version of a familiar story that also acts as an insightful look into a culture we don’t often get access to through Hollywood film.
Nanjiani acts as a loveable central figure to this story, the constantly awkward and frequently unflappable Nanjiani may not be the most proficient of actors but his clearly sticking close to his real-life self and it makes the moments of Nanjiani’s emotional outbursts impressively powerful, from an earth-shatteringly bad stand-up gig to an eventful takeaway excursion, Nanjiani feels wholly real throughout proceedings, even if it’s unlikely his natural persona will lead to many more top billings in big comedy events.
It’s also fantastic that Nanjiani and director Michael Showalter are happy to spend time with Nanjiani’s family and explore some of the issues that face his people in America and whilst often leading to some of the films funniest scenes, the expose of old traditions clashing with Western culture as well as casual racism that exists in the country, offer thought-provoking aspects to this venture that without would’ve felt a little more run of the mill.
It’s this material that no doubt encouraged a terrific supporting cast to get on board with what should’ve seemed like a risky proposition and the likes of Ray Romano, Holly Hunter and the increasingly good Kazan all deliver noteworthy turns in their roles. Whenever Kazan shares the screen with Nanjiani, the film goes up a notch while it’s great to see Romano continue his good work from HBO’s short-lived Vinyl as Emily’s father Terry and his friendship with Nanjiani is a real blast.
With so many easy to digest wins, Sick does fall down ever so slightly in its ability to deliver constant hearty laughs. Whilst understandably never meant to be a laugh riot, Sick’s hit ratio with jokes would end up being a 1 out of 4 proposition and as is the case with many Apatow backed projects, Sick does at times end up being one of those fast talking American styled comedies that has infested the comedy landscape since the breakout hits of films like Knocked Up and The Hangover and Sick is always much better when its walking to its own beat and focussing more on the out of the ordinary aspects of its true tale, rather than unfunny hangouts with Nanjiani and his unlikeable stand-up mates.
Final Say –
It may not be the insta-classic some have labelled it to be and it’s not as laugh out loud funny as some would hope it to be but The Big Sick is a one of the year’s most enjoyable romantic comedies that deals with more heavy issues than you may expect. Nanjiani may not be great leading man material but this heartfelt examination of a deeply personal time in his life offers a fantastic chance to head on a date night and partake in one of the year’s most honest movies.
3 ½ Uber rides out of 5