The Big Sick - Review
I try to be open to all genres because I just plain old love storytelling, so if the story is good, it supersedes genres. "Romantic comedies" never really grab me; not because of the subject matter - love stories can be some of the most powerful story telling ever. But most of them are generic, plain, formulaic, predictable, and easy. The Big Sick is none of those things. It is an absolutely delightful story that doesn't deserve the stigma of "romantic comedy". It is a heartfelt, heartwarming, awkward, funny, sad, sweet, real, and true story that has something for everyone to enjoy. Read on to see more thoughts on one of the biggest surprise hits of the year! (Warning: Slight spoilers ahead).
We've seen all of the tropes presented in this movie before, but never done this well. It packs even more of a punch because it is the real life story of Kumail Nanjiani and his real life wife Emily Gordon.
Kumail is a stand up comedian, much to the chagrin of his very traditional Muslim, Pakistani family. His mom is trying to get him to be a lawyer and arrange marriages for him. Meanwhile, he falls in love with a girl named Emily. But things go awry when she finds out he can't be with her because of his family's traditions. When she falls ill, he has to figure out what he wants to do: let her go, or stand up to his family.
Kumail has to navigate Emily's parents post break up, and that is where the heart of the story is. Kumail and Emily are the story, but the meat of it is his interaction with her parents, and how it differs so vastly from the interaction with his own parents. Emily's parents are played brilliantly by Ray Romano in his best role yet (who could seriously get a supporting actor Oscar nomination) and Holly Hunter who goes through a wonderful character arc of her own. My favorite scenes in the movie were when it was just Kumail, Ray and Holly bouncing off of each other.
It handled all aspects of the movie well. Emily's parents' relationship is explored deeply and it adds to the depth of Kumail's relationship with himself and their daughter. Kumail's internal struggle of being a modern day American but also not wanting to disappoint his traditional Pakistani family is told well. You really feel for him and his struggle is portrayed in a way that everyone can relate to it in some way.
What I like most about it is how awkward it is. That was the most relatable part for me. It didn't glamorize anything or make it look like it should be easy, it portrayed things how it would actually happen, perhaps with just a bit more wit than usual since the main character is a professional comedian.
Kumail and his wife co-wrote the script and Zoe Kazan does a good job portraying Emily. It must have been nice for her, having an unlimited resource with the real Emily being around all the time.
If this were just an "internal struggle" movie, it would be great. If it was just a straight up "love story", it would be great. If it were just a "family drama" movie, it would be great. Even if it was just a "struggling stand up comedian" journey movie, it would still be very good. It takes all of those things and mixes them together like perfect ingredients in your favorite dish.
As mentioned above, I don't usually like the movies classified under the "romantic comedy" genre, but this is probably my all time favorite one. If it had a wide release earlier in the year it most definitely would have made my list of favorite movies for the first half of the year.
The script is great, the jokes are funny, the relationship is believable, the acting is strong, there is a lot to love about the movie. If I had one complaint it maybe could have been edited a bit tighter (could have maybe been 10 minutes shorter), but I loved spending time with those characters so much, that it was forgivable.
It was a smart move by Kumail getting Michael Showalter to direct, he was able to capture character moments perfectly. He has always been very good at portraying humor, so it really shines in the film.
This is a very nice feel good movie that will make you do some work before you get the payoff but it is worth it. It's a great date night movie, a rainy day movie, or a "holy crap, I need air conditioning" movie. In other words, you don't need much of an excuse to see it, but you should make sure that you do. Anyone who is skeptical by hearing "romantic comedy" - don't be. It doesn't deserve to be under that umbrella. It is a sweet, poignant story about how imperfect a relationship can actually be. Boiled down even more: It is damn good story telling.
Go see The Big Sick. It will make you feel good, and your friends and significant others will be impressed you picked such a wonderful movie.
The Big Sick is in theaters now.
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