Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Movie Review: "The Big Sick" (2017)

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Director: Michael Showalter
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-born stand-up comedian, meets Emily Gardener, the woman of his dreams, during one of his sets. Since Emily is white and not a Muslim, Kumail's family would never approve of them dating. Just as their relationship hits the skids, an infection in Emily's lungs causes doctors to put her into a medically-induced coma. While she sleeps, Kumail examines what he really wants in life.

"The Big Sick" is directed by Michael Showalter, who also directed the fantastic, underseen "Hello, My Name is Doris." This is a semi-autobiographical story written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon about the beginning of their relationship. Kumail plays himself in the film, though Emily is played by Zoe Kazan. At the point when they meet, Kumail is a struggling comedian and Uber driver, and Emily is a grad student studying psychology. The two hit it off and quickly begin dating, but Kumail's cultural expectations drive a wedge between them. After a few months, Kumail and Emily wind up breaking up with one another. A short time later, a severe infection hospitalizes Emily, and doctors wind up putting her in a medically-induced coma. Kumail immediately comes to her side, as do her parents Beth and Terry, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. While she is asleep, Kumail finds himself examining his life and what he really wants out of it. He is also thrust into a situation where he must get to know Emily's parents during one of their darkest hours. They are also not entirely sure why Kumail is sticking around since he and Emily split up, but eventually, they come to realize Kumail may actually be in love with their daughter.

We have been looking forward to "The Big Sick" for quite some time. There was a lot of buzz about how funny and charming this movie was when it premiered at the Sundance film festival, and Lord knows we have needed to laugh this year. We've said it before and we'll say it again, 2017 has been a rough year for comedies. Most have been utter trash. Thank God "The Big Sick" delivers some of the biggest laughs we've had in 2017. The film is extremely funny, supremely amusing, insanely clever, and thoroughly relatable. The laughs come often, relying on strong wit, relatable characters, and marvelous delivery and comedic timing by the entire cast. Even when the film takes a shift towards the more dramatic moments, it still maintains its sense of humor. Sure, it kind of follows the standard "boy meets girl, boy loses the girl, girl winds up in a coma" romantic comedy formula, but it uses this formula to its advantage, making it feel new and revitalized at every turn.

The acting in this movie is superb. It is fantastic to see Kumail Nanjiani getting the props he deserves, and what better way to do it than right by his wife's side based on their own true life love story? We have liked him for a long time and he kills it in this starring role. Zoe Kazan is not to be ignored either as she is extremely charming and offers up some first-rate, funny quips and a lot of sweet banter with Nanjiani prior to her character's dramatic medical turn. There are several hilarious but sometimes cringey exchanges between Nanjiani, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter as well. They have an initially tense relationship, but over time and with a lot of food and booze, they eventually begin to have a somewhat pleasant rapport with one another. Romano shines as a worried, nervous father, as does Hunter as a protective, scared, determined mother. Beyond all of this comedy, there is a really engaging story with tonal shifts that never feel jarring as Showalter makes them work within the context of the film. The relationship between Kazan and Nanjiani feels genuine, as it should since it's inspired by the aforementioned true romance. It's a movie with a couple we can actually root for and one we want to see come together in the end.

Even though "The Big Sick" is somewhat by-the-book as far as romcoms go, director Michael Showalter doesn't rely on the idea that cliched romantic gestures fix everything in a relationship. This film is about hard work, understanding, and sacrifice, even though a giant giraffe stuffed animal is nice every once in a while. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan breathe life into this quirky romance, and Holly Hunter and Ray Romano bring out some of the best supporting performances we've seen all year. If you've ever been in love, do yourself a favor and watch "The Big Sick." It is one of the best movies of the year.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~97%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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