THE BIG SICK
(director: Michael Showalter; screenwriters: Kumail Nanjiani/Emily V. Gordon; cinematographer: Brian Burgoyne; editor: Robert Nassau; music: Michael Andrews; cast: Kumail Nanjiani (Kumail), Zoe Kazan (Emily V. Gordon), Ray Romano (Terry), Holly Hunter) (Beth), Anupam Kher (Father), Zenobia Shroff (Mother), Adeel Akhtar (Naveed), Shenaz Treasurywala (Fatima), Vella Lovell (Khadija), Bo Burnhani (CJ), Aidy Bryant (Mary), Kurt Braunohler (Chris), Myra Lucretia Taylor (Nurse Judy); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Judd Apatow; Amazon Studios/Lionsgate; 2017)
“A challenging true relationship story.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A challenging true relationship story about the stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani (he plays a computer coder on “Silicon Valley”) and his future wife, the co-screenwriter Emily V. Gordon, during their stormy courtship.
Director Michael Showalter (“Hello, My Name is Doris”) keeps it real, as its serious tone helps make the comedy more appealing. Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a struggling Chicago stand-up comic and Uber driver, who is a Pakistani-immigrant Muslim whose family came from Pakistan when he was a child to get a better life. Kumail is taken aback that his girlfriend, the white American Emily (Zoe Kazan), a psychology major at the University of Chicago, becomes seriously ill with a mystery disease and the hospital gets him to approve that they put her in a medically induced coma to see if they can save her in time. The two first met when she heckled him during his routine at his Chicago comedy club act. Kumail was fearful of introducing the white girl to his traditional Muslim family, as the father (Anupam Kher) and the mother (Zenobia Shroff) both want him to marry in an arranged marriage to a Pakistani-Muslim (though they provide the intros, the kid can choose the girl he desires). Even if assimilated into the American culture, parental pressure is great and the dweeby Kumail has not let on to his family that he has fallen in love with someone that they would not approve of and would kick him out of the family if he dared marry. During her hospitalization, her father Terry (Ray Romano) and mother Beth (Holly Hunter) leave their home in North Carolina to stay with her, and meet Kumail at the hospital. They slowly warm to him when trying to size him up to see if he is suitable for their daughter. The film is less comical than dramatic. It observes how all the vulnerable characters work out their problems, how the boyfriend and her family find a way to deal with the illness (which is eventually cured), how each family relates to their cultural values and how the couple deal with the unpredictability of falling in love. It’s a film that reaches to get in a candid way the depth of emotions for both differing families, to show the pains the young couple are experiencing trying to be true to themselves and how the comedian’s colleagues at the club are driven to succeed in the competitive business world of comedians.
This rom/com gets more real and dirty than the usual rom/com and, even if it’s only a conventional melodrama and a bit too long and dull, it still is poignant and has something to say about the identity crisis incipient in a mixed marriage that seems heart-felt and very adult.
REVIEWED ON 7/16/2017 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/